Editor’s Note of Explanation
Readers may be surprised at the editor’s name. above, since last month the name of Reva Brown appeared as the next editor. Well, so it was intended, but industrial action at the Oxford Post Office supervened, and she could neither receive nor send anything by post. So she and I exchanged places at short notice, and her name will once more be found at the end. Thanks to all who have helped me put this newsletter together.
Tuesday March 13th Lecture — WALTHAM ABBEY GUNPOWDER MILLS — Norman Paul will talk about Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mills. Gunpowder production began on this site in the mid 1660s and continued until the Second World War. The site was decommissioned in 1991, and decontaminated. Now its 71 hectares, part of which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and includes a site of Special Scientific Interest, is open to the public. We hope to arrange a visit there in August.
Tuesday April 10th Lecture — SPITALFIELDS — Chris Thomas
Tuesday May 8th Lecture — GADESBRIDGE ROMAN VILLA — Dr David Neal
Saturday June 9th OUTING TO CANTERBURY
Tuesday June 12th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Saturday July 14th CRANBORNE CHASE near SALISBURY
Thursday September 6th to Sunday September 9th Long Weekend Bangor and Anglesea, North Wales with David Bromley and Jackie Brookes. Latecomers can be put on a waiting list. If you would like to join the trip, phone (020) 8203 0950 (Dorothy Newbury)
Tessa Smith was asked to give an informal talk on the Romans and their pottery at Brockley Hill by a small group of U3A (University of the Third Age) members who are particularly interested in archaeology. Some of them have since joined HADAS and we welcome them to the Society. Thank you, Tessa.
DISPLAY OF THANKS TO LOUISE Vikki O’Connor
We are pleased to report that a new laminating machine has been purchased with a very generous donation made by HADAS member Louise de Launay. We aim to produce semi-permanent display material by encapsulating it in clear, semi-rigid plastic. Apart from improving the look and life-span of material, we won’t be ruined by short, sharp showers – as happened at the Hampstead Garden Suburb weekend last year! Louise moved away from London several years ago now and therefore is unable to enjoy our outings and talks but, by this gesture, is being supportive at a practical level. Our thanks to Louise and, to the rest of you, watch our displays…
Good news for taxpayers — and for HADAS
Last year the Government altered the rules for charitable aid, making both regular and one-off donations eligible for gift aid. The HADAS Committee has agreed that the taxpaying members be requested to declare their annual subscription to the Society as a gift aided donation. Should you agree to this scheme, HADAS can recover tax on your subscription at the basic rate of income tax, currently 22%. There is no restriction on the number of charities you give to. We will be sending out forms next month to all members, including those who renew by standing order.
A meeting of the Committee took place on 9 February. The following were among the items discussed:
1 The Chairman had received some responses to the “advert” in a recent Newsletter for someone to assess the Reports by the late Ted Sammes and an interviewing committee has been appointed.
2 The search for new premises ( in substitution for those now occupied at College Farm) continues and the possibility of additional space at Avenue House is being explored.
3 It is proposed to publish an annual journal of the Society’s activities.
4 A meeting is to be arranged with representatives of the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre, which is being established by The Museum of London at Eagle Wharf Road, to discuss the services and facilities which will be on offer.
5 The Society is to make a donation of £500 to The Hampstead Garden Suburb Archive Trust as a memorial to Brigid Grafton-Green whom many will remember as the a long serving Secretary of the Society.
6 W. Essex Archaeology Group has asked the Society for resistivity advice in respect of a site in Epping Forest The next meeting of the Committee is on 20 April 2001
The HADAS Journal.
HADAS proposes to publish an annual Journal, bringing together the results of work carried out or completed within the year. This will take the form of an enlarged Newsletter, and will be published to replace, or coincide with, the August Newsletter. Already articles have been offered on the work carried out by HADAS at Church Farm, Whetstone House, Barnet Gate, and the Experimental Kiln Firing, and we hope to have a contribution on Industrial Archaeology, and also on Archaeology by professionals in Barnet. Although the main purpose of the Journal will be to record work carried out by the Society, we will also be happy to consider work carried out by members of the society with reference to the archaeology and history of the London Borough of Barnet. Contributions can be considered up to 5,000 words in length, and including both plans and photos. Anyone interesting in contributing, please contact the chairman, Andrew Selkirk, 9 Nassington Road, London NW3 2TX, tel 7435 7517, email selkirkhadas.or.uk
Barnet Gate — an update Graham Javes
In the Newsletter last April, I recounted John Hassall’s story in his Picturesque Rides and Walks. (1817), of a Mrs Taylor who once kept the Gate public house at Barnet Gate, then called the Bell. Hassall told how she was ‘a worthy, though humble person … whose civility and attention gained her the respect of every visitor to her humble mansion’. But she had been ‘consigned to a wretched cottage immediately opposite to her comfortable dwelling’. This ‘poor creature is one of those dreadful examples of brewers monopolizing the dwellings of innkeepers and publicans’. The Barnet enclosure award map of 1818 shows the Barnet common gate across the road, then known as the Elstree Road. The award tells us the Bell was owned by Peter Clutterbuck, (the Stanmore brewer), as a copyhold tenant of the lord of the manor. Clutterbuck had a garden opposite the pub, with its frontage along the edge of the Elstree Road, and just inside the common gate. In front of this garden, protruding into the Elstree Road, its rear edge along the line of the road, stood a tiny tenement: described in the award as an `encroachment’ held in copyright tenure. The map clearly shows this encroachment into the public road. (There were then three encroachments on the manor, but, with an area of less than one pole this was the smallest.) The occupier of these premises was none other than one John Taylor. This was the ‘wretched cottage’ referred to by Hassall. Hassall’s story is collaborated as far as the cottage is concerned. The cottage was surrounded by Clutterbuck lands, but the Taylors weren’t Clutterbuck tenants. They were encroached upon the public highway, where they became tenants of the lord of the manor. Were the Taylors indeed evicted from the Bell, when, to quote Hassall again, they were ‘at an advanced period of life, with her husband a cripple’: their only alternative being nearby Chipping Barnet workhouse? This we shall probably never know. Some twenty years later, at the time of the Bamet tithe award (1840), both the common gate and the little cottage had disappeared. Doubtless, they were a hindrance to traffic. The modern A411 road remains too narrow to permit a footpath past the pub.
A new Hertfordshire Publications arises. Graham Javes
Some two years ago Hertfordshire County Council, Libraries and Arts Department withdrew from Hertfordshire Publications, its local history publishing partnership with the Hertfordshire Association for Local History, (HALH). On 1st February I attended the signing of a new partnership agreement with the University of Hertfordshire Press, which will ensure the continuation of the imprint. Signing the agreement, Barnet local historian Dr Gillian Gear, chairman of HALH said: “I welcome this agreement, which will bring to Hertfordshire Publications the professional expertise of the University of Hertfordshire Press and the specialist input of the university’s Centre for Regional and Local History”. Amongst titles already published are:— So that was Hertfordshire: Traveller’s Jottings 1322-1887, by Malcolm Tomkins, which I edited in 1998, and Hertfordshire Inns and Public Houses: an Historical Gazetteer, (1985), by Graham Jolliffe & Arthur Jones. I contributed the sections on Arkley, Chipping Barnet, East Barnet, Hadley and Totteridge pubs which were open in 1900 and are still serving today.
Archaeology in Kuwait Stewart Wild
Continuing my explorations of 20th-century war zones, my travels recently took me to Kuwait. The city has been extensively repaired and rebuilt after the appalling destruction wrought by the retreating Iraqis in the Gulf War ten years ago. About 20 miles from Kuwait, in the Arabian Gulf, is Failaka Island, a flat and dusty strip of land about seven miles long and three miles wide. Regrettably, due to lack of time and uncertain ferry schedules, I was unable to visit it, for the island has a long history of settlement and has been known for centuries for its various shrines. There are many significant archaeological sites on Failaka dating hack over 3,000 years, with evidence of trading between Sumeria (Mesopotamia), Bahrain and Mohenjodaro, in what is now Pakistan. The island had water, and was covered in trees. It appears to have been continuously inhabited right up to the invasion by the Iraqis in August 1990 that forced around 5,000 islanders to seek shelter on the mainland. Alexander the Great’s commander of the fleet, Nearchos, was ordered to explore the Gulf in 326 BC and he wrote of an island at the head of it that he called Ikaros after the Greek island of the same name (where legend has it that the world’s first hang-glider pilot was buried). Nobody seems to know where the name Failaka comes from. In 1937 the islanders found a stone with “Soteles, citizen of Athens, and the soldiers (dedicated this) to Xeus Soteira” inscribed on it in Greek. Greek merchants’ steatite stones for fixing to their merchandise were also uncovered; similar seals have been found in Pakistan and Bahrain, but there were a lot more of them on Failaka and some seemed to have been made there. In 1958 a Danish archaeological expedition investigated the island’s numerous mounds and found tern littered with potsherds dating from the dim past right up to Islamic times. In the early 1960s an Englishwoman, Jehan S. Rehab, and her husband, a distinguished Kuwaiti, spent several months each summer conducting digs. More recently, during excavations by French archaeologists, the site of a Nestorian church (c. 400 AD) came to light in the middle of the island. The Nestorians were a heretic group who broke away from the Byzantine form of Christianity. The sect spread in Persia and to this day its rites are followed by members of the Assyrian faction now living mainly in the north of Iraq. Over the years, most of the finds were housed in Kuwait’s National Museum. Unfortunately this was one of the first buildings looted and ransacked by the Iraqis, who carried the booty off to Baghdad. Apparently a small amount of the loot has been recovered, but as the rebuilt National Museum was closed during my visit I was unable to ascertain the current situation. The island was the first part of Kuwait to be liberated by the Allied Desert Storm forces on 24 February 1991, and after the war islanders reported destroyed buildings and piles of ammunition, rockets, mortars, rubbish and the detritus of war lying all over the place. I was unable to find out the current state of the archaeological sites, but it seems likely that much damage may have been caused.
Power of Place Peter Pickering
Early last year the Government commissioned English Heritage to lead a review of policies relating to the historic environment of England. This was billed as being the fullest review of the subject for a generation. It attracted a lot of interest, some of it from the development fraternity, who saw it as a chance to relax some planning controls, particularly in conservation areas. English Heritage issued a number of discussion documents which were, frankly, disappointingly full of politically correct jargon (titles like Enriching, Belonging, and CarinG (sic) give the flavour.) The report appeared at the end of last year under the title ‘Power of Place — the future of the historic environment’. It is much better written, with much less jargon, and most of what it says is welcome. It adds to the pressure on the Government to remove the VAT anomaly whereby new building and major alterations are not liable to any tax while repairs to existing buildings are subject to VAT at the standard rate of 17,5 per cent, thus providing a financial incentive to demolish or radically alter historic buildings rather than maintain them properly and keep them in good repair. But the gaps in the report are glaring; in particular, there is concentration on the built environment and archaeology gets very little mention. Those of you with access to the Internet will find the House of Lords debate on 20th December a good read, especially the devastating critiques by Lords Redesdale and Renfrew. There is a small and very partial but nevertheless welcome recognition of amateur archaeology. One paragraph says ‘The voluntary sector has been a dominant force in archaeology for over a century. The journals of county societies still carry a significant proportion of academic archaeological publication.’ And Recommendation 11 is to support the Voluntary Sector, though the only way suggested for doing this is to `initiate a detailed review of the needs and potential of the voluntary sector’ As long as stocks last you can get copies of the report free from English Heritage. It has some nice pictures.
Aspects of Roman Tunisia
I doubt whether HADAS has ever before had an archaeologist flown from another continent just to lecture to us. But on 13th February Or Ben Lazreg came from Tunis, courtesy of Tunis Airways and Wigmore Holidays, to lecture to another gratifyingly large audience. Although he concentrated, as his title suggested, on the Roman period, he told us about the indigenous inhabitants of Tunisia (now known as Berbers) and the expansion of the Phoenicians from their homeland in present-day Lebanon across the Mediterranean, in search of tin from Spain; there were real cities in Tunisia, and houses with real bathrooms, before the Romans defeated the Carthaginians. But eventually, despite the efforts of Hannibal, who was a great politician as well as a great general, the Romans conquered Tunisia and made it into the province of Africa — under the early Empire one of the only two provinces governed by a proconsul. Two-thirds of the corn supply of Rome came from Tunisia, which also exported olive oil, fine red-slip pottery and wild beasts for the arena. The wealth of the province was shown by its multitude of cities, with well-built temples and amphitheatres, like the very well-preserved one at El Djem, but most striking to-day is its amazing number of stunning mosaics. We were shown many slides of these, which put British mosaics in the shade though our Chairman made a noble effort to maintain the reputation of Britannia. One feature of many mosaics that our lecturer drew to our attention was the large number of fishes and scenes of fishing; a sign of the importance of the sea, certainly, but also an ancient symbol of fertility and good luck, which is still current in Tunisia to¬day though it has no warrant in Islam. Mosaics continued after the Christianisation of Tunisia, though rather more stylised, and some fine baptisteries have been found. The formal lecture ended with the end of the Roman period, but in answer to questions we learnt about the, often unjustly vilified, rule of the Vandals, and of the encroachment of the desert after nomadic people moved in from the mid-eleventh century. (Though the Romans had destroyed much of the ancient forest of Tunisia, the olives they planted had maintained tree cover). Dr Ben Lazreg’s own work now, like that of too many archaeologists everywhere, is in the field of rescue, where he continues to make discoveries. His depth of knowledge and his fine slides made his lecture truly memorable. Here, to close, is a picture of him and his wife with our Chairman and two people from Wigmore Travel.
Gresham Street Mosaic Bill Bass
This rare mosaic was found in January at 10 Gresham Street, the site is being dug by MoLAS on behalf of Standard Life Investments Ltd. The area lies on a road which led south from the Roman fort to the main east-west route through Londinium. Much of this road is being excavated and recorded at Gresham Street, while half the site was affected by deep basements of the existing building, the other half fortunately was below an area that has for many years been a car park, so preservation was good here. “The house containing the mosaic was humble and unpretentious, occupying a long, narrow plot of land that extended back from the north-south street. Constructed in about AD100-120 roughly the same time as the fort – it was timber-framed but had colourful painted plaster on the walls. The mosaic adorned a living-room well to the rear, away from the noise and bustle of the street frontage. On one side was a kitchen, on another a courtyard. The building had a very short life, and its demise was violent and dramatic as the structure had burnt down in a fire.” (Museum of London web site, www.museumoflondon.org.uk) In fact several mosaics have been found in the Gresham. Street area in previous years, but what makes it rare is the early date of this one and that it is in colour rather than the usual early monochrome types. The mosaic would have been 4m sq in total with the central decorated section being 1.5m sq; some of it was truncated by a later pit. It was dated by the 18 pots (many flagons) found in the adjacent room that came from the kilns at Brockley Hill, north of Edgware (as fieldwalked by HADAS). On the weekend of the 10th-11th February some of the tessellated floor was on display at the Museum of London, just as it had been been lifted. Conservators from the Museum’s Specialist Services were on hand to explain how it had been removed and how it was being conserved for display. The floor was recorded and photographed in situ; it was then secured with adhesive mixed into strong paper tissue and gauze fabric. Once the adhesive had set, the mosaic was cut into sections. A knife is used to slice between the tesserae; each section is then removed with sharp tools and metal sheets, retaining some of the original mortar. The sections are then carefully labelled for reassembly. Once in the laboratory the mosaic is placed downwards, conservators can then carefully remove some of the mortar, fix loose areas with a synthetic resin and fill gaps. For the mosaic to be stored or displayed safely, it has to be embedded in a support material; a resin that expands and sets into a strong but lightweight foam is used. Finally the tesserae are individually cleaned. Once this painstaking work is done the mosaic will go on display at the museum.
Museum of London
Hasn’t the Museum of London been striking it rich recently? The last newsletter reported the 43 Roman gold coins found at Plantation House. Then there was the Roman mosaic discovered in Gresham Street, • described by Bill Bass above. Very recently, the newspapers reported with salacious glee a seventeenth century cup in the shape of a phallus. But most interesting to me was the Roman die found in Southwark, with on its faces not the usual spots, but letters — the number of letters on opposing faces always adding up to seven, as the spots regularly do. So, there is P opposite ITALIA; VA opposite URBIS; and EST opposite ORTI. Apparently though no similar die has previously been found in this country three have been found in Autun in France, and one in Budapest, all with VA, EST and ORTI and two with URI3IS and ITALIA. What sort of game can have been behind them all? And what will the Museum of London find next? Look at their website, www.museumoflondon.org.uk, and get yourselves on their free mailing list for ‘Archaeology matters’ by calling 020 7814 5730.
Ancient Path Under Threat
An article in the Hendon and Finchley Press of 15th February reports that an ancient right of way, trodden by the earliest inhabitants of Edgware, could be lost for good if plans to extend a supermarket and build a new cinema go ahead. Campaigners say plans to extend Sainsbury’s, part of the Broadwalk Shopping Centre in Station Road, Edgware, and build a six screen cinema, could destroy important historical and archaeological remains. “Local history buffs” according to the article, believe that beneath the tarmac and paving stones vital clues to Edgware’s past could be discovered. Edgware resident Michael Coffin is appealing for help to uncover the hidden history of the area. He says “Church Way and the Forum area are clearly inside an area of Special Archaeological Significance, which was not identified in the original and revised planning applications. We are interested in the area bounded by the east side of Edgware Road, the south side of Station Road and the edge of the Broadwalk carpark and are trying to find out what is underneath, mediaeval or earlier. There may be some local experts who can help.” The article refers to the Roman site at Brockley Hill. The article concludes -If you can help Mr Coffin uncover Edgware’s past, call him on 020 8958 4996.”
OTHER SOCIETIES’ EVENTS
Wednesday 14th March 8pm. Hornsey Historical Society. Union Church Hall corner of Ferme Park Road Weston Park N8. Egyptology — talk by Peter Clayton. £1 admission
Wednesday 14th March 8.15pm. Mill Hill Historical Society. Harwood Hall Union Church The Broadway NW7 Mediaeval and Tudor Musical Instruments — talk by Richard York
Thursday 15th March 7.30pm. Camden History Society. Burgh House New End Square NW3. Magistrates’ Courts of Hampstead and Clerkenwell — talk by Gillian Tindall
Friday 16th March 8pm. Enfield Archaeological Society Jubilee Hall 2 Parsonage Lane Enfield (nr Chase Side) Decline and Fall of Roman Britain — talk by Dr Neil Faulkner. £1 admission
Friday 16th March 7.30pm. Wembley History Society. St Andrew’s Church Hall, Church Lane Kingsbury NW9 Anecdotes of London and its inhabitants — talk by Denise O’Halloran. £1 admission
Wednesday 21st March 8pm. Willesden Local History Society, Willesden Suite, Library Centre, 95 High Road, NW10. Brief history of the Police Force and the Harlesden Station – talk by Michael Fountain
Wednesday 21st March 6.30pm. LAMAS Interpretation Unit, Museum of London. A Tudor Hawk mews in Tottenham? The Round Tower in Bruce Castle Park — talk by Jon Prosser
Saturday 31st March. Ilam onwards London and Middlesex Archaeological Society Annual Conference. Morning Session — Recent Work; Afternoon Session — Archaeology in the Landscape. Tickets £3 for LAMAS members, £4 for non-members from Jon Cotton, Early Department, Museum of London, London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN.
Thursday 29th March 8pm. The Finchley Society Drawing Room Avenue House East End Road N3. Organisation, supply and retailing — talk by Ray Ashfield
Wednesday 4th April 10.30am. Kenwood Estate Kenwood house Hampstead Lane. The Ancient Boundaries in Kenwood — Lecture and walk by Malcolm Stokes. Tickets £1.50 concessions from shop.
Thursday 5th April 7.30 pm. London Canal Museum 12-13 New Wharf Road, King’s Cross, N1 Ice essential — its use at home and work in Georgian and Victorian London — Talk by Robin Weir £1.25 concessions
Thursday 5th April 8pm Pinner Local History Society, Pinner Village Hall, Chapel Lane Car Park, Pinner. Harrow Hill — talk by Ann Hall-Williams. donation
Friday 6th April 6pm. The Geologists’ Association — Scientific Societies Lecture Theatre, New Burlington Place W1. The place of Neanderthals in human evolution talk by Dr Chris Stringer