Tuesday 9th January
An evening with Derek Batten sharing the Time Team’s Visit to his Castle in Towcester. Time Team’s broadcast is scheduled for the 14th January (look for confirmation).
Tuesday I3th February
Lecture: Aspects of Roman Tunisia, by Kader Chelei
Tuesday 13th March
Lecture: Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mills. (an outing is being planned for August)
Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th September 2001 Advance notice of the 4 day trip to Bangor area in North Wales. Details and Application for in the February Newsletter.
Despite the appalling weather of the last few weeks a good turn out from the digging team has made good progress the Burnt Oak site, near to where Roman pottery was found in the early 1970s. Unfortunately the Romans have eluded us at the moment, so far our trial trench has revealed burnt features and layers likely to be demolition material from the Wesleyan Chapel (demolished in the 1960s) that once stood on the site. Finds have included sherds of pottery one marked ….y Chapel Burnt Oak’, glass and other fairly recent material. Some clay pipe and possible Post-Medieval pottery may point to an earlier occupation of the site. The surveying team has been hard at work producing a resistivity map of the lawns around the building and a contour survey of the sloping ground near to the excavation area. We have also made a start on processing the finds at Avenue House. Future work will include site-watching when a lift shaft is to be built in the area and the opening of further trenches in the new year to pin down the exact chapel foundations and to perhaps shed more light on the Roman presence around here. Thanks to Marge Lacey and the residents for their patience and understanding while walk in and out with muddy boots, tools and whatever.
You may have seen a previous request in the Newsletter for space to store finds, tools etc. This problem will become more acute in the coming months as we have been informed that we are to lose our space at College Farm due to partial redevelopment of the site and a change in status of the farm. We have made a good start on clearing a lot of unused and dumped equipment from here. Various ideas are being pursued usually involving renting or buying a garage (within reason) or finding an area to erect a storage shed such as at the former Colindale Hospital site or Mill Hill Barracks. Please keep an eye out for any likely spaces that may come up, or if you can suggest further ideas. Through the good offices of Stephen Aleck HADAS now possess a refurbished and repaired theodolite, we just need a refurbished and repaired member to work it!
THE HADAS CHRISTMAS DINNER or CHANGING ROOMS
A well filled coach made its way across the differing architectural and social landscape of north London, to arrive at Kingsland Road, Shoreditch. Our destination was The Geffrye Museum that looked very impressive set in its garden against floodlighting.
The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers built the Geffrye Almshouses in 1715, with funds bequeathed by Sir Robert Geffrye, former Lord Mayor of London and Master of the Company. The fourteen houses and chapel provided pensioners and widows with retirement homes over a period of almost two hundred years. The peaceful, rural setting in which the almshouses were first built had, by 1900, deteriorated into one of the most densely popular areas of London, and the Ironmongers Company decided to dispose of the property and erect new almshouses in healthier surroundings. The buildings and gardens were subsequently acquired by the London County Council as an open space and a museum to the local furniture industry (opened in 1914).
The museum has now evolved into displaying the changing styles of domestic interiors, from the 17th century with oak furniture and panelling, past the refined splendour of the Georgian period and the high style of the Victorians, to 20th century modernity, seen in a 1930s flat, a mid-century room in ‘contemporary’ style plus a late 20th century living space in a converted warehouse similar to those seen around the docklands.
Our party perused the various rooms which have been decorated in an authentic festive style for an exhibition of seasonal traditions (ends 5th Jan 2001), the period settings contained furniture, paintings and all manner of household artefacts showing the changing faces of taste, fashion, and technology through the ages. The information panels were well set out and informative with ‘cutaway’ drawings showing the evolving layouts of a typical house.
David Dewing (Director ) gave a short talk on the museum’s progress while we had a glass of wine, we were sitting in the museums restaurant, housed in a recent extension, which at a cost £5 million had doubled the existing museum floor space. The extension was built in a modern style but complimenting the older structure, it now holds the restaurant, 20th century rooms, workshops, display cases, museum shop and an exhibition area (currently one on Oscar Wilde)
We then left for a short trip to Hackney (scene of a previous Dinner at Sutton House) this time it was Prideaux House home of the Toc H organisation.
Toc H (Talbot House) was started in Belgium in 1915 by Army chaplain Tubby’ Clayton and Neville Talbot as a club for soldiers on the Western front. Tubby became vicar of All Hallows by the Tower in 1922 and continued his Toc H work at the then rectory of St John the Jerusalem Parish Church, Hackney, which was given to them by Punch. Magazine who bought it and gave it to Toc H in memory of their workers who died in
the First World War. St John’s was badly damaged in the Second World War and was demolished to be rebuilt as Prideaux House, and opened in 1962 by the Queen Mother as a centre for young men corning to work in London. Nowadays Prixdeaux House caters for a wide range of activities for all members of the surrounding community. This is where HADAS sends its surplus mini mart goods.
We were shown into the ‘lounge’ and were able to inspect room dedicated to ‘Tubby’ Clayton with many artefacts from his Tower Hill days, especially a set of drawings by Alan Sorrell depicting the Boudican Revolt, in the lounge was a large painting (taking up most of one wall) by Burdett of the Tower of London and its surroundings. Gualter de Mello the centre’s Director talked about their work and future plans which included partly demolishing Prideaux House for redevelopment to release funds for other work.
We were then served a wonderful Dinner by volunteers of Toc H, the wine flowed and lucky members took home prizes form the raffle. Thanks to Dorothy for her usual organisation (and notes), and to Stuart Wild for his navigation and help.
David Dewing is giving a lecture on London’s Furniture Industry, 1750-1850. London was said to have furnished the world — from the bestoke craftsmen of the West End to the everyday furniture made in a multitude of workshops in the north east of the city. Even today many small furniture workshops and suppliers to the trade survive in the area. Weds 17th Jan, 6.30 pm, Lecture Theatre 2, Science Block, The Medical School (Barts.), Charterhouse Square, London EC’. This is a GLIAS event.
RETURN TO SPITALFIELDS
Between September and December 2000 MoLAS have once again been digging at this market site, which overlies the cemetery of St Mary Spital. This time it is beneath the floor of the market as about half of this structure will eventually be demolished for redevelopment. Below in the basement level, many pillar foundations, walls and a 2ft thick concrete floor, have disturbed the archaeology. The team of up to 30 archaeologists have been excavating the truncated burial pits and graves adding (by mid November) approx 1600 burials to the 8500 from last year. A likely boundary ditch has also been excavated and also quarry pits, the site consists of brickearth deposits over gravel. Other sites in the area are due to be excavated from February 2001-
ROUND-UP OF NEIGHBOURING SOCIETIES & UNITS
The SAHAAS archaeology group in St Albans, who worked with us at the College Farm pottery firing weekend have been field-walking this summer in the Harpenden/Wheathampstead area. They have found a substantial amount of material pointing to a Roman site, finds indicate a probable 3rd century date. The location of this site is close to the line of a Roman road, put forward by the Viatores in their book on the subject. The same site has also produced a substantial amount of struck flint. Some geophysical prospecting and trial excavations are likely for future work.
Hens Archaeological Trust have excavated two Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, one near Peterborough and the other at Cherry Hinton (featured on Meet the Ancestors) on the EssexlCambs border. They have also been involved in several building surveys, some fairly recent such as a house built in 1833 that was about to be demolished, while another, a 17th century barn, once stripped down the it’s frame was found to have been a medieval house which was converted into a barn and now as is the current vogue to be restored as a dwelling. HAT has also done some survey work at the Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mills. HADAS are planning a lecture and visit here (see the HADAS Diary and take a tin hat).
AOC Archaeology are conducting large scale excavations at The Grove, Watford. The former mansion is to be converted into a hotel and golf course. They have found evidence from all periods notably Bronze-age features and pottery, a Saxon Grubenhauser (rare in Herts) and a Late Iron-age/Roman enclosure with roundhouses, hearths and an associated updraft kiln including grog tempered wasters. For more information visit the web site at www.archaeologyatthegrove.com. AOC are also involved with a joint dig with MoLAS at Blossom House in London.
VIETNAM and CAMBODIA by Bill Bass
This year’s trip during October involved travelling north to south through Vietnam, then flying on to Phnom Pcnh and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
We started off in Hanoi, a busy, bustling, vibrant place spread out along the Red River and built around a series of lakes. The area has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. More recently, Emperor Ly Thai To moved his capital here in 1010 AD renaming the site (Thang Long City of the Soaring Dragon), then after the rule of several Dynasties the capital was moved to Hue further south. From 1902 to 1953, Hanoi served as the capital of French Indochina. I wondered around the history museum that held a rich collection of artefacts from Vietnam’s past including its contact and attempted domination by China, and influences from the likes of Indonesia, India and Persia. There
was also evidence Vietnamese’s indigenous cultures such as Dong Son, Cham and the Khmers. Back on the streets you have to take your life in your hands as the roads are teeming with bikes (push and motorised), cyclos (type of rickshaw) some cars and lorries. The general idea is to step into the traffic (slowly), they see you coming (hopefully), and amazingly the sea of traffic avoids you and themselves (most of the time), an art born of practice. The ‘Old Quarter’ is a maze of streets and alleys crammed full of shops, trades and merchandise. In the 13th century, Hanoi’s 36 guilds established themselves here with each taking a different street selling the likes of silks, food & spices, coffins, metal smiths and many other wares. Nowadays you can add electronic goods, designer gear (probably fake), art shops and so on. A big influence on Vietnam’s recent history was Ho Chi Minh, after a spell travelling around the world including a period of working in London at the Carlton Hotel as a chef, returned to Vietnam to establish the Communist party there and lead the fight against the French occupation. He died in 1969, against his wishes he was embalmed and is now on display in Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum. We join the queue for an eerie walk around the former leader in a glass chamber overseen by honour guards.
A train journey south brings us to Hue the ancient capital. The city is dominated by the Citadel, a moated and enclosed area with a surrounding 6 mile perimeter, it was begun in 1804 for the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty and contains the remains of highly decorated palaces, temples, gateways, lakes and halls. Emperor Bao Dai ended the dynasty here in 1945 when he abdicated to a delegation sent by Ho Chi Minh’s Provisional Revolutionary Government. The complex was left to decay and then suffered greatly with the Vietnam War, Hue was the site of the bloodiest battles of the 1968 Tet Offensive as the Communists took control and were then beaten back by the South Vietnamese and American forces. Approximately 10,000 people died in Hue during this time. Much of the Citadel was damaged by bombing, but there is now a program of restoration, in 1993 the complex was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We also had a bicycle trip to the elaborate Nguyen tombs, out in the countryside.
Gateway at Hue Citadel
Continuing south, a four-hour bus journey takes us over the spectacular Hai Van Pass and past the Marble Mountains, five marble hillocks said to represent each of the five elements of the universe. There is a thriving local industry carving the marble into a variety of forms. Our objective is Hoi An, a picturesque and charming riverside town full of narrow streets and old buildings. It’s much more relaxed here, heavy traffic is banned, there are many riverside bars and cafes, and fish is a speciality. Excavated ceramics from 2200 years ago show the earliest occupation in the area. The late Iron-Age cultures gave way to the Kingdom of Champa,
during this time, 2nd to the 10th centuries, there was a bustling seaport at Hoi An. Persian and Arab documents from the latter part of the period mention Hoi An as a provisioning stop for trading ships. Archaeologists have uncovered the foundations of numerous Cham towers around Hoi An. Later on it developed into a major trading port during the 17th, 1 8th and 19th periods with European, Chinese, Japanese and other nation’s vessels trading a wide range of goods (high-grade silk was a speciality). Many of the merchants stayed over for the winter renting waterfront houses. Some of these timber- framed structures have been restored and can be visited (many still lived in) while others have been excavated, the finds (mainly imported ceramics) show the growth of the town. The influence of the Chinese, Japanese and French colonies can be seen when walking around the streets — bridges, pagodas, shops and houses.
An excursion takes us to My Son, Vietnam’s most important Cham site. The monuments are set in a green valley surrounded by hills and overlooked by massive Cats Tooth Mountain. Clear brooks run between the structures and past nearby coffee plantations. The Towers are built of brick some 40- 50 feet tall, many are elaborately carved, traces of 68 structures have been found of which 20 are standing today. My Son became a religious centre under King Bhadravarman in the late 4th century and was occupied until the 13th century — the longest period of development of any monument in South-East Asia by comparison, Angkor Wat’s period of development only lasted three centuries. Most of the temples were dedicated to Cham kings associated with divinities, especially Shiva, who was regarded as the founder and protector of Champa’s dynasties.
Travelling on we experience the towns and cities of Nha Trang and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and further south to the Mekong Delta where we observe life on the intricate waterways and busy atmosphere of markets, cottage industries and local trading taking place on all sorts of boats, vessels and riverside stilted houses.
We also take in the Cu Chi tunnels, remnants of a network of tunnels built by the Viet Cong which stretched from the Cambodian border to the suburbs of Saigon. Miles of tunnels incorporated trapdoors, living areas, weapons factories, field hospitals and kitchens, making them very difficult to detect and clear.
From Saigon we fly to Phnom Penh, an urban sprawl of a place that was deserted for a number of years under Pol Pot’s regime. By contrast the Silver Pagoda complex in the middle of the city is a gold decorated masterpiece with soaring rooflines and rich interiors.
Flying on to Siem Peap — staging post for Angkor Wat, we can see the devastation caused by the flooding, as acres of paddy fields were underwater. About one thousand temples and ruins, scattered across hundreds of square miles of flood-plains and forests of northwestern Cambodia, eastern Thailand and southern Laos, are all that remains of-the kingdoms of Angkor. In Cambodia today less than 50 of the temples are safely and easily accessible. The Angkor Wat complex was built around 5 urban centres was erected between the 8th and 13th centuries AD by the kings of the Khmer empire when it was at its most powerful. Wondering around the various sites (takes several days) what strikes you is the massive scale of the monuments together with the intricate carving and bas-reliefs. They seem to cover every wall telling of stories, myths, legends, battles and are usually closely tied Hinduism or Buddhism, the temples were dedicated to one of three cults — Vishnu, Shiva or Buddha and were used for funerary, state and personal reasons. War then as now was a constant factor and this brought influences from Java, India and Thailand amongst others, water engineering enabled several crops a year to sustain the empires. Some of the monuments have been restored and there is a continuing programme of rebuilding with many countries involved, but sometimes the quieter unrestored temples, some with massive trees growing on top of them have more atmosphere. Angkor is a brilliant site and a fitting end to another adventure.
PIPE PUZZLE(newsletters 352 August & 353 September 2000) – more …
Brian McKenny of the Whetstone Society has shed more light on the boxers depicted on the piece of clay pipe bowl found in the garden of the Griffin, Whetstone, manufactured by “R S Smith” at one of two locations, Upper Gifford St and Gifford St, Caledonian Road – two Mr Smiths or one expanding his business? We still don’t know why ’49’ is encircled by the maker/address. Mr McKenny reminded us that there was a long connection with prize fighting in the Barnet Whetstone and Finchley areas, referring us to the book about bareknuckle fighting, which concentrates on the north London area, entitled Up to Scratch by Tony Gee, Queen Anne Press, Harpenden, 1998. Barnet races and fair featured fighting, also, many fighters from further afield trained at Barnet, Whetstone and Finchley. The book lists dozens fighters and fights but nothing to suggest the Griffin was directly involved. The pipe remains a puzzle. (HADAS members Dr Pamela Taylor Brian Warren and Graham Javes are included in the author’s acknowledgements.) Vikki O’Connor
A huge storm has uncovered a Roman vessel from the shifting sands of Sicilian bay. The ship — up to 150ft long and equipped with ancient luxuries including candelabras, a hot tub and religious shrine is thought to have ferried the Roman aristocracy along the Mediterranean coast to various ports en route.
The vessel was wrecked in the bay of Camarina, near Ragusa, Sicily and was found in August last year by Giuseppe Russo, a swimming instructor who was hunting for octopus shortly after the storm. The wreck lies about ten yards from the shore, at a depth of about lift and had been protected by the sand. For the past year archaeologists have been working on it in total secrecy fearing that divers and swimmers from a Club Med holiday camp could damage the site. More than 30 bronze items have been recovered so far. They include an exquisite 20in high statuette of Mercury, which was probably the centrepiece of the lararium, a place of worship for the passengers and crew. The Sunday Times, Dec 3rd
The small town of Blaenavon in Gwent, South Wales has won World Heritage status (!) Joining Stonehenge,
the Great wall of China and 700 other sites protected by the World Heritage Convention. Blaenavon was chosen because of the key role it played in the industrial revolution. it is home to a carefully preserved ironworks and the Big Pit Mining Museum at a coal mine which closed in 1980. Residents hope World Heritage status could attract 500,000 tourists a year and £15 million of investment. Metro, Dec 1st (Cricklewood next ?)
MUSEUM DISPLAY CASE
The RAF Museum is to receive £4.7 million from the National Lottery to build an exhibition centre that will vastly increase the number of aircraft on view to the public. The grant, the largest of 10 grants to be announced by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will pay for a large barrel-vaulted stainless steel building that will allow the machines to be suspended.
Dr Michael Fopp, the museum’s director, said the ‘spectacular’ new building was part of a big expansion that would also involve the transportation of the Graham White Aircraft Company hanger that built many of the aircraft which fought in the first World War to the museum’s Hendon site. The museum owns more than 200 historical aircraft, of which 70 are currently at Hendon. The space will allow far more machines to be put on display there, the exhibition will be called Milestones of Flight and will contain examples of aircraft that have a key place in the development of modern aircraft. These will include the FE2 ground attack aircraft built by the Royal Aircraft Factory in 1914, the oldest surviving Spitfire, the German ME262, the first jet aircraft, and the Eurofighter.
The museum hopes to open the new exhibition complex by 2003, in time for the centenary of the first powered flight by the Wright brothers.
The Great Court and refurbished Reading Room at the British Museum was opened to the public on 7th December, the amazing glass roof now provides a new focal point to the museum. A staircase built around the Reading Room gives access to the northern galleries and also incorporates a new spacious bookshop. Inside the circular Reading Room the conserved and redecorated dome looked impressive. The Room now houses The Paul Hamlyn Library, initially of over 12,000 books, to complement the collections in the rest of the museum. Also available is COMPASS — Collections Multimedia Public Access System, this touchscreen system allows unprecedented access to information on thousands of objects in the Museum’s collections, you can follow a virtual tour of the galleries, browse the collections on-line, select images which maybe then ordered as high quality prints. A lesser version of COMPASS is available on the museum’s web site at www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk. You can then relax at one of the cafes or restaurant in the Great Court
Museum of London
The last chance to see the High Street Londinium exhibition (extended to 28th Jan), a gritty and realistic portrayal of Roman London around 100 AD. What is not usually mentioned is the rich display of finds at the end of the reconstruction, being near to the Walbrook and waterlogged many of the finds are well preserved. Wooden artefacts are particularly well represented such as the base of a chest, a window lintel or sill with sockets for the upright bars, a dough tray, a silver-fir barrel reused to line a well, and a string of boxwood heads. Copper-alloy items included a set of scales, the style of which was thought to he Saxon but are now seen to be Roman, and complete lamp on a chain — the first of this type found in London. A shale table top, styli & writing tablets, pottery, coins, dice and a game were included in the range of finds.
Another exhibition at the museum coming to the of it’s run is Chaucer’s London on until the 7th Jan.
“Few classics remain as enduring delight as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. To mark the death 600 years ago of one of England’s greatest poets, this exhibition celebrates Chaucer’s Londoners, his company of pilgrims who set off from the Tabard Inn in Southwark to visit the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury, exchanging tales along the way to make the journey more pleasant and diverting. Chaucer’s work as a customs official introduced him to a wide range of characters — money laundering merchants, gluttonous friars, men of science chasing the secret of secrets’, the alchemy process that would turn base metal into gold. The display introduces you to some of Chaucer’s pilgrims with an array of medieval objects of the type Chaucer’s ‘company of sundry folk’ would have used or worn — a string of amber beads for the fashion conscious Prioress, craftmen’s tools for the cloth workers and items related to Chaucer’s own life. Most interesting of all are the many badges worn by medieval pilgrims as proof of the shrines they had visited”.
OTHER SOCITIES’ EVENTS by Eric Morgan
Thurs 4th Jan at 7.30 pm, London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, Kings X, Ni. The Lime Juice Run, talk by D.I. Murrell, £2.50 (£1.25 cons).
Thurs 4th Jan at 8 pm, Pinner Local History Society at Pinner Village Hall, Chapel Lane Car Park, Pinner. Bricks and Skeletons, History of Stanmore’s 1632 Brick Church, by Dr Frederick Hicks, £1.00 visitors.
Wed 10th Jan at 8 pm, Friern Barnet & Local History Society, Friern Barnet Lane. Talk by John Heathfield of HADAS.
Thurs 1st Feb at 7.30 pm, London Canal Museum.
Wood, Coal and Rubbish – Narrow Boat Carrying by David Blagrove, £2.50 (£1.25 cons).
Thurs 1st Feb at 8 pm, Pinner Local History Society.
The Story of Isabella (Mrs Beeton) & Sam by Ann Swinson.
Fri 2 Feb at 6 pm, (tea 5.30 pm) The Geologists Association, Scientific Societies Lecture Theatre, New Burlington Place, WI. Sir Joseph Prestwich & The Antiquity of Man by Edward James (followed by wine and refreshments).
Sun 4th Feb at 10.30 am, Heath and Hampstead Society, Burgh House, New End Square, NW3. Artefacts and Historic Structures on the Heath, a walk by Noel Hill (£1,00).
Peter Pickering writes that the talk at the SCOLA AGM this year is by Robin Nielsen of MoLAS on Recent Discoveries at Plantation House. This important site will add some new ideas on Roman London and the area around Fenchurch Street. HADAS members are welcome. Thurs. 25th Jan at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House, Piccadilly, W1. At 2 pm.
Fri. 19th Jan at 1.10 pm (50 mins) Museum of London Lecture Theatre.
Londons Gladiator: the truth. Following the discovery of a Roman cremation burial in north Southwark, archaeologists from the Museum will examine the truth about the burial, the environmental issues and the excavation itself.
The Birkbeck public series on Human. Evolution continues its Spring Term from Thurs lst Feb to Thurs 8 March 2001. Note that the venue will be at the Lecture Theatre, Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC I.