Issue No 296 NOVEMBER 1995 Edited by Bill Bass
Tuesday 7th November
Lecture: “Not What They Used To Be”
Presidential Address by Michael Robbins, FSA.
The reasons for the massive work of church restoration undertaken in the 19th century, some of the principal figures engaged in it and the controversies it gave rise to, and the intellectual, artistic and social background to the process.
Tuesday 5th December
Christmas Dinner: This has not yet been finalised as we go to press. However, the enclosed leaflet and application form contains full details of this annual HADAS event. NB:The date may have been changed.
Tuesday 9th January, 1996
Evening Visit: Royal Institution and Faraday Museum with Mary O’Connell
HADAS Lectures are held in the Stephen’s Room, 1st floor, Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley Central. Doors open at 8.00 pm for refreshments, lectures commence at 8.15 pm. The Society’s library in the Garden Room will be open on lecture evenings and can be accessed via the ground floor of Avenue House.
Details of non-NADAS events are given on the back page.
1995 MINIMART – ALMOST THE BEST EVER! Dorothy Newbury
We have made a clear profit of f1,500, all expenses paid. This is our second best result. Every stall exceeded last year’s takings. Our pre-Minimart sales were nearly f 600 which included income from our monthly Sales and Wants slips, Margaret Marshall’s bead stringing and donations kindly sent by several members who could not come on the day. Forty eight stalwarts helped on the Saturday, mostly regulars who by now know the routine and set to with gusto. The day didn’t pass without incident – so great was the lunch demand that Tessa had to send out for a pound of ham. The three ladies on the gift stall came to me trembling with fear – a customer was threatening to fetch her husband and sue the Society. In the crush she was seen to be filling her bag with goods and objected when asked to empty it so that the helpers could count the cost. Then before the start, the “bush telegraph” sent a message up to me
that a dealer had sneaked in. When I approached her she said she was not a dealer, nor a member but “a doctor’s wife”. Did she think HADAS stood for Hendon and District Association of Surgeons?
Anyway, tough guy Roy Walker quickly ejected her! When the whistle blew, everyone was ready for the off and, as always, everyone,I think and hope, found it a fun-day as well as a fund-raising day.
Thanks to everyone who made it such a success especially to Bill, Roy, Arthur and Alec who did the heavy transporting and lifting and the dismantling and transporting afterwards.
It is fair to record that those Society members involved throughout the year in all aspects of the Minimart are fully aware that the success of this venture is due to the time and effort expended by Dorothy in controlling the Sales and Wants slips, storing the sale items in her home and factory, as well as organising the hall, helpers and transport. The motivation and encouragement comes from Dorothy to whom the Society is greatly indebted.
· Malcolm Stokes has successfully completed the second year of Birkbeck College’s Certificate in Field Archaeology
· Gareth Bartlett has had a letter published in Current Archaeology, he was concerned about neglect and vandalism at the Deserted Medieval Village site of Wharram Percy.
HAMPSTEAD HEATH DITCH
After a small break work is continuing on the boundary ditch (weather permitting). Anybody interested in volunteering, or just interested, is welcome to drop by and find out what’s involved (see map in September’s Newsletter)
· HADAS has been asked to help in watching work in roads to be affected by re-routing of services in preparation for the roadworks/widening of the North Circular Road. At present this is around the Golders Green Road area. Nothing of any note has yet been seen.
n From Tessa Smith: Planning applications have been received for the Upper Welsh Harp, where a Bronze Age barrow was destroyed when the Welsh Harp Reservoir was constructed, and for land at 217- 227 West Hendon Broadway. which is close by. English Heritage has asked the applicant that archaeological assessments be carried out.
EXCAVATION REPORTS FROM OTHER UNITS
Bridgedown Evaluation: The Herts Archaeology Trust kindly sent a report of their evaluation at the Bridgedown Golf Course, just north of Chipping Barnet, (August Newsletter), here are some extracts. “200 trenches were cut, these being between 10-30m in length and 2m wide, spaced at approx 30m intervals. The areas trenched encompassed significant ground disturbance associated with construction of the golf course. These comprise the clubhouse, tree planting, lakes, greens, tees, fairways and bunkers. The entire site has been extensively drained to combat the heavy subsoil, and much evidence of land and mole drainage was observed. A number of man-made pits and ditches were located, the majority are post-medieval, i.e. relatively modern, but a handful contained Saxo-Norman and Roman pottery. Very few archaeological features were found. Those that were are dispersed and not readily indicative of concentrated activity i.e. an archaeological site”. There then follows a list of trenches with features and their fills, perhaps the most interesting being:
“Trench 36 contained a number of shallow depressions, filled with a light grey/brown, silty clay and flint nodules (5%) and charcoal (I%)- They contained sherds of coarse, flint tempered, Saxo-Norman (11th12th century) pottery. Trench 121, feature 100 is an elongated pit 0.75m long 0.45m wide. It is filled with a light/mid grey silty clay, with flint inclusions and charcoal. It contains iron nails and thin-walled, dark grey pottery of Roman date (no other details). Feature 101 is a gully with similar fill to F100 and also contained Roman pottery. Features in trench 121 may be indicative of an archaeological site located beyond the north-western boundary of the area of development”.
The shallow hollows with 11/12th century pot mentioned, sound remarkably similar to features that were found during the laying of a gas pipe line near Dyrham Lane, Hertsmere, about 1.5 miles N/W of the golf course (August 1993 Newsletter). Here, the pottery was thought to be domestic and looked very similar to that from the Arkley kiln site.
Field Evaluation, 86 West Heath Road, NW3: A report of the work undertaken by Mike Webber (independent archaeological consultant) on behalf of developers London and Argyle Ltd has also been received. Twelve test pits were dug which revealed features associated with modern horticultural activity. Two unabraded flint blades and a blade fragment, mesolithic or neolithic, were recovered as well as sherds of Border Ware (1550-1750), Post Medieval Fine Redware (1600-1800), an early 17th century clay tobacco pipe bowl and other more modem domestic wares. The unabraded condition of the prehistoric artifacts suggests they were found close to their place of original deposition showing that full use was made of the local environment – not just the well-watered and dry sands of West Heath but also the less-well drained, wooded areas that surrounded it. It was concluded that post-medieval activity destroyed the earlier deposits.
Both reports are held in the HADAS library at Avenue House and are available for loan.
A LETTER SENT FROM THE TRAVELLERS’ CLUB, 5th October, 1995 Author unknown
The strangest thing happened this morning at the Club and I don’t really know what to do about it. I was in the library, the most valuable club library in the country, perusing the fine collection of 1st editions and, as always, admiring the frieze cast from the Temple of Apollo at Bassae in Arcadia and as is my wont, occasionally leaning against the corinthian columns that divide the room into three, when 1 heard the sound of voices, mainly womens’ voices, coming from downstairs. At first they came from the Morning Room or it could have been the Ladies Dining Room next to it. That was fine but I realised it was too early for luncheon when the ladies are usually admitted so who could it be? Then I heard the House Manager explaining some of Charles Barry’s architecture – how the unusual feature of the Club was its central well open to the sky with three rooms and a corridor surrounding it. The narrow corridor allowed the three rooms to be larger and the well made for a light and airy feel to the building. Tourists! I settled down into my favourite leather armchair but soon was back on my feet. They were in the Gentlemen’s smoking room. I could hear them admiring the leather armchairs, the country house style fireplaces and making some unkind comments about the stale tobacco smell. And they weren’t even members! I bet they looked at the bound copies of Punch too! The quiet of Carlton House Gardens impressed them – I couldn’t wait until they heard the noise of Pall Mall within the dining room, should they be allowed to progress upstairs. Damn it all. I travelled to four countries outside Europe and America, had to have two nominations from people who had known me for over five years and be elected to membership without opposition by the committee for the privilege of using this building. And pay an annual fee of £750. These interlopers were now in the corridor, marvelling at that trick fireplace that backed onto the well with a window immediately above it. The Manager then told them that the smoke was extracted via a flue running to the left not above as in normal fireplaces. With indignation I sank back into my chair.
I must have dozed for a few moments for I then heard them declining to travel upstairs in the second oldest lift in London. Upstairs! It was no consolation that I had guessed right – they disliked the noise of Pall Mall in the first floor dining room but appreciated the mirrors at each end which gave reflections of the chandeliers through to infinity. The dome over the staircase had been restored to its former glory which they also appreciated. They moved on into the Castlereagh Room named after one of our founders in 1819, although, as you know, we have only been here since 1832 when this Italian Renaissance design of Barry’s was completed. I heard the Manager tell more of our secrets, the two suicides in the mid-19th century, one a failed gambler, the other a manic depressive and they were even shown our voting boxes.
The secret door in the library, the one with the fake books on it, opened and Jones came through carrying some bottles of sherry. For me? I joked. No, the chap said, it’s for our visitors. That’s it, I thought. I am all for friendliness, but when a chap can’t have some peace and quiet in his own club or a snooze in its library then the world is a worse place. You know, old boy, while supping our sherry, they would want to see Thackeray’s chair, the frieze, another country house fireplace and stare at the Gardens from the balustrade. Time for action I thought. 1 enquired who these people were. He told me HAAS. Never heard of them! They are interested in dusty old relics, he said, looking me straight in the eye. Well, discretion being the better part of valour, I laid back, put The Thunderer over my face and quietly sank into dreams of the Hindu Kush where life was so different those many years ago. There were no tourists!
A VISIT TO PALL MALL & ST JAMES’S, 5th OCTOBER, 1995 Roy Walker
Mary Connell braved the discomfort of a painful leg to lead a small group around the Travellers’ Club, the work of Sir Charles Barry, and then for a tour of Pall Mall and St James’s. The Club was virtually unoccupied that early in the morning so we had a rare opportunity to inspect a piece of grand Georgian architecture under the guidance of the House Manager, Nigel Sharpe. The tour finished with a glass of sherry in the library, disturbed only by the flutter of that day’s Times newspaper. Mary’s tour then encompassed the architecture of Clubland – exteriors only. We were shown the homes of clubs, both past and present including the former United Services Club, now the Institute of Directors: the Athenaeum with its external Parthenon frieze and the Duke of Wellington’s mounting block: the Reform Club (next door to the Travellers’ also designed by Barry, completed in 1841) and the massive RAC Club. The home of Neil Gwynne next to the late-17th century Schonberg House gave rise to speculation as to the origin of the Dukedom of St Albans. Clubland was followed into St James’s Street now the home of the Carlton Club, Boodles, Whites and Brooks. Pickering Place, once the home of the Ambassador to the Lone Star State of Texas was inspected and Mary drew our attention to the commercial aspects of this select part of London -Berry Bros &Rudd, Lobb’s and Lock & Co noted for wines, shoes and hats, operating from premises dating from the early 18th century to the early 19th. Shining shoes and furry hats were in evidence when we had paused between Pall Mall and St James’s Street to watch the guard change at St James’s Palace. No doubtText Box: 4 the wine would have been in evidence when the officers fell out.
On that morning, courtesy of Mary, we had in a very small circuit seen the architecture of Nash, Decimus Burton, Sir Charles Barry, Norman Shaw, Robert and Sidney Smirke, Luytens, James Wyatt and Pennethorne. We had supped sherry in a Club established for travellers some 170 years ago and enjoyed the Changing of the Guard at a Tudor palace built on the site of a hospital for leper maidens! Those that enjoyed the morning thank Mary for sharing her love and knowledge of London with us – it is a very generous thing to do.
THE SPITALFIELDS’ PROJECT Roy Walker
Hawksmoor’s Christ Church, Spitalfield’s, opened in 1729, has been claimed to be London’s finest Baroque church. At the October lecture we delved deep into its history, down into the crypt which had been sealed since 1860. Here, coffins compacted to a height of 9 feet were removed by a MoLAS team and their grisly contents cleaned and measured on site over an eighteen month period. Further scientific analysis followed and is still ongoing. Theya Molleson of the Natural History Museum took us through the results of this work and indicated the areas where future research is needed. The excavation provided skeletal material of known age and sex, details given on coffin plates and in Parish records. Significantly, this enabled the methods of bone dating and sexing to be applied to a controlled sample and to test the efficacy of these methods. First some statistics -385 individuals, one third of the sample, had dates and names; the earliest was born in 1648, the latest in 1853; the earliest burial was in 1729, the last in 1852; the age at death covered all ranges, they did not all die at 30! They were on average shorter than today, males 5 feet 5 inches, the females four inches shorter. Historically, this was a period of scientific exploration. It was the beginning of medical schools, dissection and (ironically perhaps) grave robbing. One recovered skull showed signs of an autopsy. There were signs of dental work on others – the first mercury/silver amalgam filling of modern time, “Waterloo” teeth and porcelain ones on springs. The measurement of teeth provides an accurate indication of age and it was possible to compare the Spitalfields sample with modern growth rates. As it was with other parts of the skeleton and we were shown graphs of bone analysis. Comparison of the long bones indicate that at birth the sample were equal to 20th century population but by the age of one or two years there was a falling away and growth never catches up. The reasons for this were explored – sickness perhaps, the age of weaning or poor diet when being weaned. However, the sample had not necessarily died young nor had the development caught up in later life when the diet had improved. The Spitalfields weaving community would have started work from the age of seven or weight and a contributing factor to poor development may have been this working beyond adequate energy intake. The average age of death was 56 years, male and female but the low 90s were achieved.
With the wealth of known age and sex, “blind” tests were run to compare estimated age and sex (as would be carried out on unknown archaeological samples)with the known facts. The results showed that the younger individuals had higher estimated ages and the older samples were given younger ages. for example, Louisa Courtauld who died aged 77 years had the bones of a 50 year old. And she had eight children!
Further investigations were carried out. Bone achieves full thickness at 30 years and women in the sample thin out from the age of 50. Today’s woman thins out from the age of 30 to 35 – there is now less density at an earlier age. This indicates a change over the last 150 years in the life style of women living in London – perhaps less physical activity is the reason.
One example emphasised the need to involve experts in forensic interpretation. Two holes in a skull were not recognised as gunshot wounds until the death certificate was consulted – white marks on a subsequent x-ray revealed lead from the bullet. It was a suicide who had suffered from abscesses – evidently gout and toothache were major causes of suicide! There was an 18th/19th century epidemic of gout due to kidney damage from a high intake of lead. Theya pointed out that this was dietary lead not inhaled lead which would have come from lead cisterns or lead-lined wooden barrels. Diet was examined but there was a problem over possible contamination of the sample from the coffin metals themselves. A skeleton from a wooden coffin had four times the modern lead content so this was obviously a dietary intake not influenced by the coffin materials. To test whether skeletal metals from those interred in lead coffins were dietary or absorbed from the coffin involved a piece of statistical logic for which Theya apologised as being difficult to follow so I shall not apologise again for failing to repeat it here! Other metals could be linked to diet -potassium from vegetables, copper from shellfish especially when stored in verdigris used as a bactericide. We finished with the relevance of oysters in the diet of that period – 3 million a year from Whitstable alone – common to the rich and the poor alike. Theya wondered if this was why they had such large families!
Theya was impressed by the standard of questions at the end of the lecture so much so that she complimented the Society on its interest in the Project.
CALLEVA ATREBATUM Bill Bass
Following our outing to Silchester and walk around the Roman town wall, I recently managedto visit the Museum of Reading where the principal collection of finds are kept. At present the refurbished
galleries are based on three floors with The Silchester Gallery being on the third. Here you can see a wealth of objects relating to everyday life from the site including jewellery, fine glass and pottery, sculpture,
mosaics, locks and keys, coins and craftsmen’s tools. The exhibition also explains how the political and legal life of the town functioned from the Forum/Basilica and the social centre of the baths;and how trade in
the province was conducted in the shops, inns and work-shops of the town. Also of interest on the floor below is a full-scale replica of the Bayeux Tapestry displayed in a continuous show- case Sewn by thirty five Victorian ladies, the replica was the idea of Mrs Elizabeth Wardle, leader of the Staffordshire Leek Embroidery Society, no less. It is faithful to the original in every detail, recreating the original colours, fabric, design and embroidery stitches. There are brief interpretive panels below the scenes.
THE WHOLE TOOTH AND NOTHING BUT. • •
Well not quite, it wasn’t a whole one and it was found in association with a load of other stuff!
A few weeks after our visit to the Boxgrove site, it was announced they had discovered Britain’s oldest human fossil (we didn’t forget anybody did we?). The tooth was found surrounded by animal bones, lumps of chalk And the waste products of flint tool manufacture. It is probable that the dental clue – a lower central incisor – belonged to a mature or elderly male, 17mm of its length survived of an estimated 25mm. Its enamel covering was at least 50% thicker than that found in modern human teeth. Together with evidence from the tibia, found 30 feet away, the tooth found slightly deeper, supports the conclusion that the early humans of Boxgrove were big – between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall.
Also noted by several members when visiting Boxgrove were similarities between the excavation here and that of West Heath. – careful trowelling of sandy material, finding flint and accurate three-dimensional recording. It was also interesting to see the use of baulks between trenches, in a time when “open area” excavation appears more fashionable.
Under the guise of industrial archaeology, two members of HADAS joined a walk exploring old railway trackbeds in north London earlier this summer. The railway in question used to be the old LNER branch from Finsbury Park to Highgate, Alexandra Palace, High Barnet and Edgware. It was proposed that the branch would be electrified and extended to Bushey Heath (via Edgware) as part of the Northern Line but due to a lack of resources after the War and the creation of the Green Belt it was decidedto modify these plans to the tube system we have today. In fact, it was more than proposed. An estimated f2 million ( pre – War value) was spent on works such as cable-runs, signalling, civil engineering and, in the case of Highgate, a completely new high level station – all abandoned!
The tour concentrates on features of this uncompleted project, many of these items are still in situ and can be inspected especially between Finsbury Park and Highgate as this section has been left as a footpath. The line can be traced through Highgate Wood, now rather overgrown, to Ally Pally. From here buses took the party to view sections past Mill Hill East to Edgware. Further north, the only remaining evidence are traces of a brick-built arched viaduct which would have supported a station at Brockley Hill. A tunnel under the hill would have reached Elstree and thence Bushey Heath.
Organised by Jim Blake, this walk is an annual event held on the first Sunday in July and is documented by him in his book “Northern Wastes”.
THE ABBEY HABIT Bill Bass
Martin Biddle has continued his excavations at St Alban’s Abbey this year. A five weeks campaign during August and September saw three or four HADAS members taking part. Trenches from last year were left open over the winter so that rain and frost could work on the difficult clay subsoil and more features were observed and planned for the forthcoming dig. These included further graves from the Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, with more work on the cellarium with excavation of the north-west corner. Several more Roman burials were investigated, most contained evidence for coffins (e.g. nails) and grave goods such as pottery and glass attested to possible graveside ceremonies. There was an example of a “flexed” burial; another had signs of a healed bone fracture. Of the Saxon burials at least three generations were identified. These graves can be broadly dated to the 10th and 11th centuries by the presence of “pillow stones” supporting the heads.
Those members who have seen Fountains Abbey will have some impression of what the vaulted cellarium would have looked like. Last year’s trench in this area was extended to reveal more of the northern end, again with remains of the ribbed vaulting and decorated floor tiles which had collapsed into the cellar on demolition. Study here of the different mortars, wall facings and floor surfaces will give further understanding of the phasing and relationship of the cellarium to the outer court and Abbot’s reception parlour. Usually there were twenty or so people on site, all volunteers except the Biddies, ranging from local diggers to students, others from America, Germany etc. The work in sweltering conditions was hard but enjoyable. In future, Martin would like to excavate further south of the medieval complex, where he feels St Alban was originally buried 700 years before Paul of Caen, the first Norman abbot, built his Abbey.
· In the Daily Mail (25 September) there’s a report on a new site, 10 miles from Skara Brae in the Orkneys. It was found by a local farmer when ploughing and a team from Glasgow University used geophysical techniques to pinpoint further walls. Excavation has revealed stone furniture, recesses in the wall which look like beds, a polished stone axe and worked flints, This was contained in two complete houses with walls still standing eight to ten stones high. The team are confident that Stonehall, as it is now called, is several centuries older than Skara Brae: carbon dating of charred hearth wood may confirm this.
· Thinking of moving? The same newspaper pictures a fort in the mouth of the River Cleddau at Milford Haven. Historic Stack Rock fort is up for auction at a guide price of £50,000, the buyer however will need plenty of extra cash – not to mention a boat to get there, as “substantial renovation” is required. The limestone structure, with brick and stone interior, has 29 rooms on three levels. Built in the 1850s to protect the Royal Naval Dockyard at Pembroke from Napoleon Ill, it remained in military use until the end of World War II, but has since been in private hands.
Text Box: 7HAVE TROWEL – WILL TRAVEL Jean Bayne
It was in the best field archaeological tradition; cockroaches in the kitchen, ants in the shower and alcohol in the fridge !. These were the high profile features of the small, dark spartan flat which was our living quarters this summer at Roda de Ter, about 50 miles north east of Barcelona. I had gone there with a friend from a field archaeology class to undertake a week’s excavation in connection with the course. To complete the picture, ten young, lively, funny, caring students were crammed into the tiny flat with us !. Every morning we were on site, L’Esquerda, by eight o’clock, trowel in hand and we worked through until nightfall. Our afternoon break was for a large 4 course meal with wine in the local workman’s cafe, but ‘siesta’ seemed to be an unknown English concept 1. Another large 4 course meal was taken about 10.00-
10.30 at night. After this the students went dancing but we couldn’t stand up!. Even the weather took us by surprise: in other years, we were told, the temperatures reached 43°c. This year was an exception: rain, mists and early morning chilly cold!. Everyone except us was very excited about the rain – during which we processed finds – and told us constantly about high temperatures in London while we shivered in our ‘hot summer’ gear!.
The site was spectacular. Perched alongside the village on a hilltop with the river Ter running around it below and forests on the nearby hillsides, we looked out across a wide valley surrounded by mountains. Ruins were clearly visible at the furthest northern end of the long flat hilltop and at the southern end was an earlier prehistoric site.
The local villagers were fiercely proud of their site and could trace their involvement back to the beginning of the century. Back then all that was visible was one wall of the ruined medieval church as the site had been farmed continuously since the 14th century. Nevertheless, they knew that there were extensive archaeological remains running the length and breadth of the hilltop. When the villagers heard of plans to build a factory there they dug up the fields to expose the archaeology in an attempt to thwart the plan. No factory was ever built, and the University of Barcelona began to take an interest in the site. It has always, though, acknowledged its debt to the villagers by giving them priority places on their annual two week summer dig. Some young people there had been coming to the dig for more than 10 years. Also, every October they would hold a meeting in the village, attended by over a hundred people, to explain their progress and findings. A small museum in the village houses the finds. During the rest of the year the villagers keep an eye on the site and, recently, when someone set fire to the grass on the hilltop, the fire engine was accompanied by most of the villagers!. The other diggers were university students from all over Catalonia, specializing in archaeology as part of their history degrees. We were the only foreigners out of approximately forty people.
The site spanned several chronological periods from the late Bronze Age, 7-8th century BC, (for which pottery has been found) until the late medieval period of the early 14th century. The main phases of interest are the 4th century BC, in which a fortified Iberian oppidum was built, and the 10-13th century when the medieval village was begun and expanded. The medieval site, at one end of the hilltop may have extended to the walls of the Iberian site at the other. There is also a suggestion that it is partly built over the original Iberian site as ancient water cisterns there are clearly pre-medieval. Curiously, little evidence of Roman occupation has been found although they were in the area and the village has a Roman bridge over the Ter. By the 14th century the hilltop village was deserted for the lowlands nearer the river, where it lies today.
So there are two main sites, rich in structures and finds. At the medieval end, the stone walls of small medieval houses, graves dug into the soft rock near the church, and evidence for a central square and road are clearly visible. House building appears to have been planned rather than spontaneous. Unfortunately, agricultural practice over the centuries has removed much of the stratigraphic evidence. Archaeologists suggest that its early 8-9th century use is likely to have been as one of the fortification points along the river Ter to counter the advance of the Muslim army. In later times, the area seems to have been divided into three storage places, living areas and units for agricultural production e.g a granary, a mill and floors for threshing and haystacks. Finds include stone mills, grey & black pottery, animal bones and carbonized seeds.
Whilst we were there, further wall structures were uncovered but they appeared less compact and uniform than the house walls and went off at angles and in diverse directions. This caused much interest and also seem to show that the area of occupation was extensive, built on former structures and possibly included a variety of building types.
The Iberian was also dominated by structures though less immediately visible. It was a fortification with evidence for walls, tower and gateways. Four large post-holes suggested timber construction and a major street was evident. Storage rooms for weaponry, pottery and other objects have been found. An example of early urban living Greek pottery suggests that it was also a community involved in trade.
We worked on the smaller Iberian site, cleaning features and trowelling several new walls; gateways came to light and a more precise picture of the overall layout was exposed. Former ploughing, though, made it difficult to find clean stratigraphic levels with any precision: the soil was very mixed. There were a few areas where the soil changes were dramatic and one or two spots which were jealously guarded as it was thought that they might have escaped deep ploughing because of the stone walls. (These were to be explored last – a bit like leaving your favourite morsel of foodto the end!). Finds were abundant: pot of different kinds, bones, a few coins and some iron objects. Charcoal deposits were common. It seems that the site was thriving in the 4th century BC, destroyed by a major fire in the 3rd century BC and reconstructed during the Ist/2nd century BC.
As there was only enough money to finance a fortnight’s digging, the pace was relentless, albeit very good-natured. The people we worked with were easy-going, charming, gentle and courteous and there was much fun and laughter. We were very well looked after, though we had to, graciously, decline offers to go disco-dancing at midnight!. They all spoke Catalan and I soon discovered that my efforts to show off my few words of Spanish were defined as “politically incorrect”. The site directors were two delightful women, dedicated to the Catalan cause. So we made do with their English which they enjoyed practising and a lot of guesswork and gesture. The last Saturday we spent in Barcelona in a luxury hotel – soft beds with pillows, an enormous bath and fluffy towels. We felt more like ‘stretcher’ archaeologists by then than ‘field’ or even armchair ones! But we will always remember our experience in Catalonia with great affection!
FURTHER DIARY DATES
Museum of London, Friday lunchtime lectures, 1.10 pm – 1.50 pm
The general theme is “Excavating London Today”
November 3rd Digging at No 1 Poultry (Peter Rowsome)
November 17th Cranford Lane: a prehistoric site in west London (Mark Birley & Nick Elsden) November 24th Medieval London Bridge: lost and found (Trevor Brigham & Bruce Watson) Museum of London Study Day
Saturday 25th November, 1995, 1 0.00 am – 5.00 pm Fee f15.00 (concession £7.50)
Complements the exhibition Photographers’ London7839-7994 which runs until 31st December, 1995. Essex Archaeological Symposium
Saturday 4th November, 1995, 10.00 am – 4.30 pm, at St Charles Hall, Holland Road, Clacton-on-Sea. Tickets f 4.50, includes tea and coffee, from Pamela Greenwood, Newham Museum Service, Archaeology and Local History Centre, 31 Stock Street, Plaistow, London, E13 OBX (tel 0181-472 4785)
Recent Archaeological Discoveries in Kent
Saturday 11th November, 1995, 2.15 – 5.30 pm, at Christ Church College, North Holmes Road, Canterbury. Organised by the Council for Kentish Archaeology, 5 Harvest Bank Road, West Wickham, Kent, BR4 9DL from whom tickets are available at £2.00, cheques payable to CKA, sae required.
LAMAS Local History Conference
BANISHING LONDON’S SLUMS
Saturday 18th November, 1995, 10.10 am – 5.00 pm at the Museum of London.
Tickets (f 3.50) and enquiries from LAMAS, 36 Church Road, West Drayton, Middlesex, 1JB/ /PX. SCOLA Open Meeting
WHERE YOU SAT IN A MEDIEVAL HOUSE (AN ARCHAEOLOGIST’S VIEW) Dr Philip Dixon, President of CBA Saturday 4th November, 1995, From 2.15 pm, Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly. All welcome, admission free.