Welcome to the first newsletter of the New Year and Millennium
(even if you think it’s 12 months early), good luck and best wishes for the future.
Ted Sammes – A Generous Bequest
Ted, founder-member and Vice President who died in November 1998 has left the bulk of his Will between two main parties – HADAS and The Maidenhead Archaeological Society, he lived in Taplow in recent years. HADAS has received £60,000 so far with some more to come once details of the Estate have been settled. For the present the money will be banked until a decision is made on its future use. An evening is being planned in April to celebrate Ted’s life and his archaeology, there will be reminiscences from people and friends who knew him and an exhibition of his work, amongst others things. Ted was highly active in HADAS’s early years contributing to the society’s early successful excavations helping to uncover Hendon’s archaeology and foundation.
London Charterhouse Project for the New Year – by Brian Wrigley
HADAS has been asked by Colin Bowlt to carry out a resistivity survey to determine whether a likely feature shown on an aerial photograph can confirm the location of a water conduit built in 1431 by the Carthusian monks. We visited the site in November and identified the area to be surveyed. It would be useful if we could recruit enough volunteers to form two teams; one for the resistivity runs and one to take a series of runs with the level. The project should take one or perhaps two weekends, but as this seems to be a somewhat chilly winter so far, we will wait for slightly warmer weather. In the meantime, any members who would like to take part, please contact myself on 0208 959 5982 or Vikki O’Connor on 0208 361 1350 as we need to draw up a list of people available. Perhaps some of those members who had some training on the Church Farmhouse Museum dig last summer would like to have a go? We would be giving at least one weeks’ notice.
The site is five minutes away from the Barbican Underground Station, close to Smithfield.
Thursday 13 January Lecture: ‘Predynastic Egypt: The Formative Years’ by Kasha El Daly –
Please note that this lecture is on THURSDAY and not on the usual Tuesday.
Most people think of Egypt starting with the pyramids, this evening’s lecture will give an overview of recent works tracing developments from the seventh millennium BCE leading up to the rise of Civilisation in the Nile Valley. °kasha graduated from Cairo University in 1980. Worked as a guide and lecturer until he came to Britain in 1992 and started teaching Egyptology at the University of London.
Tuesday 6 February Lecture: Armageddon and Megiddo by Sam Moorhead.
The first lecture for 2000 will be in the Drawing Room (ground floor) at Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N3 Starting at 8.00pm (new time) followed by coffee.
A meeting of the Committee was held on 3 December 1999. The following items were among those discussed:
1. Continued consideration is being given to alternative more suitable premises. Meanwhile a new lease is being negotiated at Avenue House.
2. As a result of increased publicity, membership has grown to 310. A new leaflet about the Society and its activities has been prepared for issue to new members.
3. The Society is buying a binocular microscope to aid finds processing at a cost of approximately £300.
4. As previously reported, the Sammes Memorial Evening will take place in April.
5. Work on the Church Farm House and Brockley Hill fieldwalking finds continues.
6. There is a proposal for tree planting at Barnet Gate Meadow and the Society has been invited to monitor ground disturbance.
7. There are vacancies on the committee which should be filled by new, active members – particularly young ones! Next Meeting 4 February 2000
In connection with number 1 above, do any members own or know of a secure/dry storage area where we could keep our digging equipment and possibly some finds? Such as a lock-up garage, shed or small room, we would be prepared to pay a reasonable rent for a place perhaps in the Finchley or Hendon area. If so please phone Bill Bass on 0181-449-0165, thanks.
Phyllis Fletcher – our membership secretary for many years, has moved to The ORCHARD in Hampstead Garden Suburb_ Her phone number
remains the same.
Mickey Cohen – one of our Newsletter editors and committee members, had an accident in her flat and has spent 3 weeks in the Royal Free. She is now convalescing and hopes to be home soon.
Marjorie Errington – a very long standing member has had to move to a retirement home in Potters Bar, following a year or two of ill-health. A popular member who rarely missed our events, we wish her well in her new home. Her new address and phone number can be obtained from Dorothy or Vikki.
from Dorothy Newbury
Murial Large – has also had an accident and tells us she misses our activities, particularly the lectures.
If any Finchley members could offer her a lift sometimes I am sure she would appreciate it.
Freda Wilkinson – sadly we have to report her death in November. She was almost a founder member, joining HADAS in its very early days. She was an indexer by profession and in her early days was a very active member, excavating at West Heath Mesolithic site and at the Church End dig in Hendon. She was an active member of the Prehistoric Society, travelling at home and abroad on their study tours. She was cremated at Hendon Crematorium where several members attended.
Dorothy writes to say we are looking for a replacement editor. HADAS is very lucky to have 12 members who are willing to take on this job. Not many local societies have a Newsletter every month. Vikki O’Connor says we have quite a number of new members – do we have one who could fill the place of one who has reluctantly retired ? Or do we have an old member prepared to produce one a year. Copy is sent in by members, then typed or word-processed and sent back to me for printing. We still send Newsletters to members who have moved away to all parts of the country, and is much appreciated by all of them. We are grateful to our members who take on this job – and don’t always get the appreciation they deserve.
NOVEMBER LECTURE Report by Sheila Woodward
John Creighton – Britain in the Shadow of Rome
It was good to welcome John Creighton back to a HADAS gathering. As a teenager he dug on our Mesolithic site at West Heath and so acquired a taste for excavation, though he admits that it taught him that the Mesolithic was not for him! His interest now centres on Iron Age and Roman archaeology and in his lecture he offered a re-interpretation of Roman influence in Britain between Caesar’s invasions of 55 and 54BC and the Claudian conquest and occupation of 43AD.
Taking the famous St Albans Folly Lane burial as his starting point, John Creighton suggested that its depiction as a Celtic Iron Age burial and shrine gives a wrong emphasis. The material culture associated with the burial is clearly Roman. It is accepted that Julius Caesar conquered Gaul but we do not see him as having conquered Britain: he just ‘popped over’. Yet Caesar himself claimed that he had conquered Britain; he had a triumph to prove it.
So, did south-east Britain become part of the Roman world from 55BC? Certainly it ceased to be the ‘unknown quantity’ it had been prior to Caesar’s invasion. It features in the Roman literature of the period and its tribal dynasties are well attested both there and in the tribal coinage. Commius of the Atrebates was Caesar’s ally during the invasion of Britain and though he subsequently changed sides he seems later to have agreed terms with Mark Antony. Coins issued by Commius and his successors began to be Romanised, even to the use of the title Rex for the leader. Similarly, among the Catevellauni, coins of ‘King Tasciovanus’ were being minted by about 20BC. Does this mean, asked John Creighton, that these dynasties from Gaul were ‘planted’ in Britain by Caesar to encourage Romanisation? It is known that Caesar and other conquerors took children of the elite in conquered countries and brought them up as Romans. Returned to their own countries as rulers, they would become allies of Rome.
The design of coins minted in south east Britain after 54BC began to change from traditional abstract patterns to Roman-type imagery such as sphinxes, gryphons and vine leaves. Copies of coins issued by Augustus featuring his equestrian statue and a star (following the appearance of a comet) were produced by the Atrebates. After his victory at Actium, Augustus’ coins used the figure of Victory standing on a globe to express world domination. The Catuvellaunian King Cunobelin issued coins featuring Victory to symbolise his authority in Britain – but his Victory holds a torque instead of a laurel wreath. And when the Roman world under its emperor Augustus at last achieved peace, this was symbolised in the symmetry of its coin designs. A similar symmetry then appears on British coinage.
The Roman custom of educating conquered “princelings” in Rome enabled the future rulers of client kingdoms to get to know each other. It must have created quite an international enclave. For example Juba of Nubia, brought up in Rome, married a daughter of Antony and then became King of Mauritania. Because of such contacts Britain’s copying of coin imagery was not confined to Rome. British coins of the period show links with Mauritania, North Africa and the Black Sea region.
All this Romanisation of late Iron Age Britain would account, in John Creighton’s view, for the suspiciously speedy success of the Claudian conquest 45AD. The urbanisation of south east Britain had already begun: oppida established, coins being restyled, lucrative trade with the rest of the Roman world. Perhaps the cynical Tacitus said it all: “Britons were gradually led on to the amenities that make vice agreeable – arcades, baths and sumptuous banquets. They spoke of such novelties as ‘civilisation’ when really they were only a feature of their enslavement.”
Members enjoyed an interesting tour around Dr Johnson’s House, he lived at 17 Gough Square from 1748 – 1759, and it was here that he compiled the first English dictionary published in 1755. The house contains books, papers, letters prints, and other artefacts from Samuel Johnson’s time. While some of the features have been restored such as wood paneling, staircase and some period furniture, the rooms are kept as ‘working spaces’ for events and the use of researchers. The dinner was held at the nearby Ye Olde Cock Tavern originally built in 1549, 56 HADAS members followed in the illustrious footsteps of previous customers such as Pepys, Dickens, Seridan and Garrick.
Time Team 2000
The team have been recording new programmes for a 12 part series starting in January. Excavations include: a WW2 Spitfire in France, a Pagan Temple in Greenwhich and other sites in Benidorm (!), Coventry, Hereford and Hartlepool.
Also look out for the new season of Meet the Ancestors beginning in January with the first programme on the Roman Sarcophacus found at Spitalfields
The Bronze Age craft excavated in 1992 by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust during roadworks is now on display at Dover Museum, The 31 ft vessel has been dated to 1550 BC and is thought to have been sea-going. Its plank-sewn construction is broadly similar to that of one found at North Ferriby on the River Humber before the last war. Restoration cost 12.5 million, the vessel now rests propped on a steel cradle in a sealed glass case.
EXCAVATIONS AT BROCKLEY HILL, STANMORE
In the Transactions of the LAMAS 1998 Wessex Archaeology report on an excavation they carried out at Brockley Hill, Stanmore. The site was located to the west of Watling Street (Harrow side) near the southern end of the hill by the A410 roundabout. Investigations were required in advance of housing development on former Ministry of Defence land. The site had suffered heavily by disturbance and truncation from the former MoD buildings and service roads.
In summary, the material they found consisted of ” sporadic” Romano-British activity, of a varied, but somewhat enigmatic nature. There was no evidence of any domestic occupation of the site and no obvious links with the Brockley Hill kilns to the north. Discrete deposits of gravel and concentrations of fragmentary and abraded Roman masonry and ceramics were found adjacent to the road to the south of the site, and this area may have served as a road-maintenance depot. Evidence of industrial activity was recovered in the north of the site, but its precise nature is unclear. The presence of large ponds or wells may be linked with industrial use of the site or indicate that it also served as a watering place for drovers travelling between London and Verulamium “. It was felt that the artifactual evidence indicated a predominantly late Romano-British occupation (AD 240-400), although earlier material had been found, this was thought to be residual/dumped from elsewhere. Other finds included metalwork, worked limestone and a small amount of wood (stakes and planks) from one of the former ponds. Features found included ditches, gullies, pits, slots and post- holes. Illustration unfortunately not available
The pottery and ceramic building material report here is also of interest in view of our (HADAS) recent fieldwalking of the kiln area at the top of Brockley Hill. Their earlier fabrics (AD 60-160) are dominated by Verulamium Region White wares and other unassigned sandy wares with some non-local finer Nene Valley colour coated types and a little Samian ware. This, at a glance, seems to broadly follow the pattern of our fieldwalking pottery, the material from both sites also appear to be fairly abraded Their later fine wares consist of a significant amount of colour coated and parchment pottery from Oxford.
Although not very conclusive the report adds more detail and information to this very interesting area, but our friend, Sulloniacis, still remains elusive.
A mysterious but almost perfectly preserved underground structure unearthed in Orkney may contain the first Neolithic staircase ever discovered. If the three-storey structure turns out to be from that period, c3000 BC, archaeologists say it will shed fresh light on the Neolithic people’s capabilities. There are in fact three staircases connecting various chambers, one contains an alcove housing an animal skull. John Gater, a geophysics expert, has found evidence of an enormous ditch built around the site. He also believes satellite buildings were scattered near it. Historic Scotland will decide this year (1999) whether to fund a full-scale excavation of the site.
A 300 year intact bottle of wine found by MoLAS archaeologists at the Spitalfields excavation was widely reported when it was opened for sampling by experts. It was one of two found in the remains of the cellar beneath the former house of the Master Gunner of England. The house was demolished in 1682 – allowing this onion shaped bottle to be dated to 1670-1680.
” Slightly volatile, dry and surprisingly fresh” said the experts, ” Somewhere off the west African coast, possibly Madeira, possibly the Canaries…. but it has high acid, good acid, which is typical of the Madeira”, soil “.
IMPRESSIONS OF PERU by Bill Bass
The Spanish conquistadors encountered in Peru a land of bewildering contrasts – coastal desert, high plateau, snow-capped mountain ranges, fertile valleys with rushing rivers, and dense Amazon rainforest. The Inca Empire c1100-1500AD was the largest in the Americas, extending over 4,000 kilometres from northern Ecuador to the heart of Chile. Its wealth was its downfall as the conquistadors plundered riches to fill the coffers of the Spanish crown. Less well known but equally fascinating are the remains of earlier preceding civilisations such the Moche, Wari, Chavin and Paracas. This year I was fortunate to go on my travels again, so during October and November, packed my bags and visited this amazing country, my first time south of the equator. I travelled with a friendly group of 15 people.
Like most people our first contact with Peru is the capital, Lima, which is a massive urban sprawl of some 8 million people. The modern city was founded by Francisco Pisarro in 1535 but there are some remains of pre-Inca settlement such as the Huaca
Huallamarca a restored Maranga temple dating from about 200- 500AD or the recently excavated mud-brick temple of Huaca Juliana about 4th century AD. Many other ruins have already been swallowed up by the capital’s rapid expansion over recent years. We visit the Museo de Oro (Gold Museum) a huge private collection held in a large vault in the suburbs of Lima, consisting of gold, silver, ceramic, stone, clothing and other artefacts belonging to pre- Spanish cultures. With a visit to the main town plaza you can see the contrasts of a modern cosmopolitan city with its historic Spanish colonial architecture, while five minutes around the corner some of the massive problems Peru is struggling with confronts you. Covering the hills that surround Lima are the pueblos jovenes or ‘young towns’, these shanty towns lack electricity, water and adequate sanitation. The thousands that live in these conditions scratch a living as best they can amongst high unemployment and poverty.
Heading south there’s an excursion to the Ballestras Islands an hours boat ride off the Paracus Peninsula. The rocky islands are home to hundreds of sealions basking in the sun while wheeling overhead are many species of sea bird including the guanay cormorant, the Peruvian booby and pelicans. Also seen was the odd penguin (lost from the Antarctic apparently) and a turkey vulture. The birds nest on the offshore islands in such numbers that their nitrogen-rich droppings (guano) collect in quantities large enough to be commercially exploited for fertiliser. This practice dates from at least Inca times. Continuing on down the Pan-American highway through fields of cotton and oranges to the flat and stony pampa of Nazca to view the mysterious lines. The patterns drawn on the plain are thought to date from the Paracas and Nazca period 900 BC to 600 AD, but this is inconclusive and still open to much debate. Theories for there purpose include an astronomical calendar, ritual walkways, appeals to the Gods and so on. They were made by removing the darker sun baked stones from the surface of the desert and piling them up on either sides of the lines, thus exposing the lighter coloured soil. A recent experiment by teachers and students using well-laid plans, geometry, wooden posts and rope drew a spiral in the way that the Nazcas are thought to have done it finishing the spiral in one morning We observed the lines from a (slightly bumpy) light- plane flight, the plain is covered in designs with many being overlapped and reused, some designs represent a variety of giant animals such as a lizard, monkey with an extravagantly curled tail or a condor with a 130 metre wingspan. Others are simple but perfect triangles, rectangles or straight lines running for several kilometres across the desert.
Back on terra-firma we drive to the Cemetery of Chauchilla, here excavated and preserved by the dry heat are the bones, skulls, mummies, pottery sherds and fragments of cloth dating back to the late Nazca period. The mummies sit crouched in their tombs open to the sun, wrapped in burial coats and other textiles, some of the heads have been deformed and elongated, considered a sign of prestige and beauty. Elsewhere bleached bones and artefacts are scattered on the surface as far as you could see.
Before turning inland we visit Puerto Inca, a sheltered bay once the port for Cusco – messages and fresh fish could be carried by teams of chasquis (runners) along an Inca road to the Imperial capital 240 kilometres away, within 24 hours. The Rio Pachitea runs into the bay which is surrounded by a rocky, sandy almost martian landscape, there were extensive ruins of the earlier settlement which we explored.
From the coast we head across the desert and climb to Arequipa (2325m above sea level) the main city of southern Peru. The place is overlooked by El Misti a spectacular snow-capped volcano, many of the city’s buildings date to colonial times, quite a few are built from a very light-coloured volcanic rock called ‘sillar’, the buildings dazzle in the sun earning Arequipa the nickname ‘the white city’. Amongst the Cathedral, churches and colonial houses is the Monastery of Santa Catalina, in fact it was a convent built in 1580 and eventually grew to occupy 20,000 sq m, a city within a city. At its height 450 people lived here (about a third nuns and the rest servants) funded by rich dowries. After about 3 centuries of this, the pope complained that Santa Catalan was more like a club than a convent, he sent Sister Josefa Cadena, a strict Dominican nun, to straighten things out. She arrived in 1871, sent all the rich dowries back to Europe, and freed all the servants and slaves, giving them the choice of staying as nuns or leaving. The complex was opened to the public in 1970 who are free to wander around the narrow twisting streets and tiny plazas, courtyards, cloisters and dwelling rooms. Arequipa has a history of earthquakes – many buildings have been destroyed over the years, one night we experienced a minor earth ‘tremor’ of around 15 seconds, no big deal in these parts but it’s enough to get your attention. A short flight takes us over the Andes to Juliaca which is bustling local town and railway junction, we arrive in the evening. The locals many in traditional dress are making their way home from an anniversary fiesta marking the towns foundation, by foot, bike, tricycle taxi and anything else that comes to hand, all loaded with market produce and various animals, birds and so forth. The local economy is mainly agricultural the vast plains around here are covered in small and large farmsteads. Early in the morning we drive to Lake Titicaca (3820m) at this altitude the air is thin, clear and freezing cold (it warms-up later). Our boat calls at several islands including one of the floating islands of the Uros people. The lives of the Uros are totally interwoven with the ‘totora reeds’ that grow in abundance in the shallows of the lake, their islands, homes and boats are made with the stuff Today, about 300 people live this lifestyle, but the attractions of shore life is eroding this small number. After a fleeting overnight stay at Puno, the lake’s major town, our next stop is to the site of Sillustani. The Colla tribe were a pre- Inca people living around Lake Titicaca, their dead were buried in funerary towers called ‘chullpas’ which can be seen in the Puno area, the most impressive of which can be seen at Sillustani. The towers are up to 12m high and made of massive coursed blocks, some of the towers are unfinished, carved but unplaced blocks and a ramp used to raise them to the correct height are other features to be seen. The site is partially encircled by Lake Umayo – making a serene and peaceful place.
Back at Juliaca our party boards a train heading north for Cusco, it has to edge out slowly as the daily market is in full swing with stalls crammed close to the tracks selling every conceivable goods. An 8 hour journey takes us across the dusty altiplano dotted with llama and alpaca, over the La Raya pass (4321m) and on through fertile valleys to Cusco.
The imperial capital was laid out in the rough shape of a puma probably in the 12th century by the first Inca, Manco Capac, the son of the sun. Today, leading off the picturesque central plaza with its fountains, great Cathedral, and Jesuit church of La Campania are narrow stepped streets which bear witness to the extraordinary skill of Inca
stonemasons – many are lined with precisely interlocked stonework which serves as the foundation for colonial and modern buildings. One of the most impressive structures would have been the Coricancha (Sun Temple) now forming the base of the church of Santa Domingo. This temple in the Inca period would have been lined with some 700 gold sheets, each weighing about 2kg. There were life-size gold and silver replicas of corn that were ceremonially ‘planted’ in agricultural rituals. Also reported were solid gold treasures such as altars, llamas and babies, as well as a replica of the sun. Within months of the arrival of the first conquistadors, this incredible wealth had all been melted down. Walking around today we admired the amazing architecture – tapering walls and closely fitted blocks forming chambers, doors, windows and niches. We also visit some sites overlooking Cusco, one, Sacayhuaman was a massive fortress – making- up the head of the puma mentioned above. Some areas were being excavated, finds included several mummies that were found in previous weeks.
After several days exploring the Sacred Valley, heartland of the Inca empire, we start walking the Inca Trail (or Inca Trial as some have put it). We spent four days the trail walking a distance of
about 44km (27 miles) walking up and down three high passes, the highest being Dead Woman’s Pass’ at 4200m, in between the passes there was Peruvian Flat’ (nothing of the sort). At this altitude I found it very tough going, fortunately we were distracted by visiting sites, admiring the snow-capped scenery, inspecting the flora and fauna – giant cactuses, orchids, wild iris, geraniums which were visited by hummingbirds. The lower hills are lined with beans, onions, figs, tomatoes, pineapples and corn, often we made way for farmers or their children shepherding goats, cows and packhorses along the trek, passing their small crofts with chickens and pigs on the way. At night we camped, it was a bit cold but the clear air and lack of light gave a great view of the Milky Way. Constructing the trail itself was an amazing feat by the Incas, clearing the path, laying the stone and in some places tunnelling through and expanding natural fissures in the solid rock.
On the afternoon of the final day a short steep climb brings to the Sun Gate, in the distance a glorious panorama of Machu Picchu in sunshine surrounded by a wall of mountains, with Huayna Picchu, the steep peak towering over the monument, almost protecting it. It takes an hour to walk from the gate down to the site, Machu Picchu becomes bigger and bigger, it’s a surprisingly large site the promontory covered in stone buildings with agricultural terracing on the surrounding slopes before a sheer drop to the valley below. Returning early the next morning, it’s quiet and we have a guided tour amongst. the temples, houses, Royal Palace, ceremonial baths, tombs and many other buildings. Although known about by a handful of the local Quechua peasants it was Hiram Bingham who brought Machu Picchu to the world’s attention in 1911, since then many theories have been put forward for its construction, but nobody knows to this day why it was really built. But the exceptionally high quality of the stonework and the abundance of ornamental rather than practical sites, show that it must have been an important ceremonial centre.
Peru has had varying fortunes recently, political and civil unrest, high unemployment and heavy flooding due to the effects of El Nino. But the country has a great history and the people appear to be as friendly and cheerful as they can in difficult circumstances. It was a great place to visit.
Harvey Sheldon’s series of Thursday night lectures resumes on January 27 2000, the subject is Recent Work on London’s Archaeology: Investigations and Interpretations. At the Institute of Archaeology, 7.00pm, fee £40/£20 concessions (10 lectures) or £5 on the door. Contact Anna Colloms, tel. 0171 631 6627′
27 Jan Heathrow and other West London Gravel Sites – John Lewis
3 Feb The Thames Foreshore – Mike Webber
10 Feb The London Amphitheatre – Nick Bateman 17 Feb Roman Cemeteries – Jenny Hall
24 Feb The Mithraeum and Fort Reconsidered – John Shepherd
2 Mar Archaeology of the Cray and Darenth Valleys – Brian Philp
9 Mar London’s Monasteries – Barney Sloane 16 Mar Saxons in the Strand – Bob Cowie
23 Mar Royal Palaces in London – David Wilkinson
30 Mar Archaeology of the Jubilee Line – James Drummond Murray
St. Johns United Reform Church will be having an exhibition on
it’s foundation as St Augustines Presbyterian Church & New Barnet Congregational Church both in 1870, to their amalgamation – the creation
of St Johns & the rebuilding of the church; by means of written text, photographs, programmes, record books, plans and so forth. The opening will take place after morning service on Sunday 2nd January 2000 and will then be open on the following Saturdays between 10am to 4pm on 8, 15, 22, 29th of Jan. It will also be open on the following Sundays between lpm to 4pm on 2, 9, 16, 23, 30th Jan. After 30th Jan it will close.
You can still catch these exhibitions at the British Museum: Cracking codes – the Rosetta Stone and Decipherment, until 16th January. Gilded Dragons – buried treasures from China’s golden ages, £6.00/4.00 cons, until 20th February.
Other society’s lectures
6th January The Grand Union Canal – by Ken Moore, London Canal Museum, 7.30pm, Croydon Canal – by David Delaney, New Wharf Road, Kings Cross, Ni. £2.5011.25 cons
Barnet & District Local History Society, 3.00pm, Social History of Lighting – by Dr. A Lynch, Wesley Hall, Stapyton Road. Barnet.