Tuesday October 8: The new lecture season opens with St Paul’s Cathedral our marble heritage by Dr Ann Saunders, past HADAS President.
Lectures start at 8pm in the Drawing Room (ground floor) of Avenue House, East End Road, Finchley, N3, and are followed by question time and coffee. We close promptly at 10pm.
Tuesday November 12: Simon Parfitt, who last visited HADAS in March 1996 to bring the Boxgrove Palaeolithic site to life, will offer a broader view in The Ups and Downs of Life in the British Palaeolithic.
December, date to follow: Christmas Party. A definite date has not yet been fixed, but possible ones are Thursday December 5 or Monday December 9. Details will follow in the next Newsletter. London prices have escalated enormously and most appropriate locations fora HADAS event are now obliged to employ security staff which adds to the cost. So we are going back to the practice in the early days of HADAS and planning a local dinner with an interesting visit nearby. We will visit St Mary’s Church, Hendon, where the vicar, the Rev Paul Taylor, will give us a talk on its history — a Norman church with possible Saxon foundations. Next door is the Meritage Club (Age Concern) built on the site of Ted Sammes’ excavations in the 1970s and where HADAS held its Christmas Arabian Night in the 1980s. Members will be able to show their Ireland weekend photos and those from other outings or activities, and the 1984 Channel 4 video Barnet Before Domesday may also be shown. A member has offered to run a quiz, and it has been suggested we have a couple of sales tables (minimart substitute) with books on one and cakes and Christmas goodies on the other.
Hanshaw Drive: the sequel
Following the excavation of our first trench at Hanshaw Drive in 2000 (HDWOO) adjacent to the house in Thirlby Road where the Roman pits were found in 1971, the digging team have now returned. The trench this time is 5×1 metres and cuts across a prominent mound at the centre of the site. So far, the stratigraphy this time round is pretty basic — turf, about 15cm of post-1965 topsoil, a thin layer of ash/ cinder, then a thick and very well packed 50cm or so of redeposited London clay mixed with demolition rubble from the former Wesleyan Meeting Hall (1928-1965). This contains such goodies as electrical wire, bathroom tiles and slabs of concrete. Below this we have just started to come down onto what will hopefully prove to be the original buried (and very sandy) ploughsoil, which has already yielded its first 18th century day pipe stem fragment. No sign of the Romans just yet, however. We are presently digging on Sundays 10am-4pm with a break for lunch. Would-be diggers please call me on 0208 200 6875 or Brian Wrigley on 020 8959 5968. Andy Simpson August 18 update: The buried soil was a false lead. We are 89cm below the turf level and still in very firm redeposited clay — we found a plastic shampoo bottle!
The Friary Park survey
The survey has been continuing here with some areas being resurveyed to provide a more consistent result. Latest results show an unusual intriguing feature, shaped as a long line with circular ends. It is difficult to speculate what this might be, but if it were a structure of some kind it would have been a substantial one. Research by Oliver Natelson of the Friern Barnet and District Local History Society shows a mansion had been built in Friary Park in the 16th century (the present house in the park is mid-Victorian). It stood west of Friern Barnet Lane and south of St James’s church, with which it was connected by an avenue in 1783, when the extensive grounds were bounded to the west by ponds and Blackett’s brook. “The house contained 17 hearths in 1664, when it was unoccupied. In 1797 the main east front of five bays with two wings was in an early 18th century style but the core of an older house survived with piecemeal addi¬tions, probably including a hall of c 1660.” (extract from Victoria County History of Middlesex). Whether the survey feature is connected with such a building or some earlier or later event remains to be seen, but the results are encouraging. The survey will con-tinue into September. Bill Bass For more information on this, see the HADAS website.
Plan preserves Ted’s cottages
Barnet Council has published an additional chapter to its development plan entitled Cricklewood, West Hendon and Brent Cross Regeneration Area. Over the next ten years the area roughly bounded by Hendon Way, Park Road, Edgware Road and Crickle-wood Lane (240 hectares/592 acres) on both sides of the North Circular Road is scheduled for improvement. The Brent Cross area will become a new “town centre”; new and improved transport links will run between Hendon Central/Brent Cross tube and Brent Cross and Cricklewood and there will be a new train station behind the Virgin cinema complex on the Edgware Road. Areas of Special Archaeological Significance and nature conservation sites are included, while the Cricklewood railway workers’ cottages (Gratton Terrace, et al), which Ted Sammes fought so long to save, are protected within a conservation area. The public are invited to forward comments during the six-week consultation period ending on Monday October 7. For your copy of the proposals call the Strategic Planning Team at Barnet House, Whetstone, on 020 8359 4990, fax 020 8359 6054 or e-mail email@example.com Stewart Wild
Lottery cash for the Grange
There is good news for the Grange Museum of Commu-nity History, currently located at Neasden in our neigh-bouring borough Brent. A major grant from the Herit¬age Lottery Fund — almost £1 million — is well-nigh guaranteed, which will enable its collections, which document and celebrate Brent’s unique history and cul-tural diversity, to be far better and more accessibly displayed. The money will help fund the relocation of the museum from its present site, which has poor physical and disability access, restricted storage and display space and poor educational facilities, to new premises at Willesden Green Library Centre. The new central location includes an innovative proposal to develop an integrated children’s library, museum and Learning area and much-needed space for permanent displays, temporary exhibitions and im proved storage and conservation conditions. Basing the museum within the library complex will help to create a new cultural facility for Brent and assist in the develop ment of a range of educational activities and facilities. The award is one of 22 announced by the HLF for major projects as wide-ranging as the creation of a new national museum on the waterfront at Swansea, restor ing Hull’s largest urban park and the Stonehenge plan.
Sadly, all the poles have gone
Following last issue’s plea for information on the research on trolley bus poles and lamp standards in Woodhouse Road and Friern Barnet carried out in 1978, Bill Firth provides this update. I remember this work well. I started it in Golders Green when it became obvious that new street lighting standards were being put in. At the time there were trolley bus poles used as lamp standards from Childs Hill to Henleys Corner, which I recorded, but they were replaced soon after. Raymond Lowe took some photographs. I was unaware of any similar poles elsewhere in the borough but Brian Wibberley, the BLW of last month’s comments, took me up on this and recorded those in Woodhouse Road and Friern Barnet Road. There are none left now. Just to be sure! rode along the length of the two roads in early August. I do not know when they were replaced but I imagine not long after those in Golders Green. The Research Committee minutes of November 5 1976 recorded Mr Lowe as reporting: “Trolley bus poles now in use as lamp standards were converted by Edward Clack for the North Metropolitan Electricity Co., Hendon District.” At this time Mr Clack had retired and was living in Appleby, Cumbria. One other point: the poles originally supported a heavy weight of wires and were installed leaning away from the centre of the road so that when the wires were added the poles were pulled upright. When the poles were used as lamp standards they were not carrying the weight of the wires and they leant away from the road.
Eyes down, once again
Bill Firth’s Article (History Beneath our Feet) in the last Newsletter struck a chord with me, although it is quite some years since my late pa rents paid bills to Northmet. A few thoughts from deepest Surrey, where I have been looking at public utilities covers. In my parish there are six different styles of gutter rainwater gratings, made by 40 (yes, forty) different ironfounders, from Exeter to York. Main drainage reached here only in 1931. One draincover was cast in India, and others bear the names of local builders. But remember Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Retired Colourman: “The house is older than the water-pipes”; an 18th-century cottage here has the draincover of a builder whose nearby yard opened only in 1927. Don’t overlook the railway station: mine has a Southern Railway water valve cover (1923-48) and had another from an engineering firm which was involved with the station building in 1885. This last has been lost, which brings me to my final point: record before “development”, resurfacing or traffic damage leads to the disappearance of evidence! Derek Reran
The Romans are delayed:
The continuation of Andy Simpson’s account of Roman Hendon has unfortunately been squeezed out of this Newsletter. Watch the next one…
Research on Shirehall Lane, Hendon
A paragraph in the MoLAS 2002 annual review briefly summarises the complicated constructional history of the building at 8 Shirehall Lane, Hendon, which formerly housed part of the Hasmonean Primary School. Andrew Westman of MoLAS (the Museum of London Archaeology Service), has kindly allowed HADAS to publish a much fuller summary of his report. In return, he hopes a HADS member may be able to help find out the name of an earlier researcher of the building’s history. Andrew Westman writes: I was able to spend one day (in February last year) in Hendon Archives and Local Studies Cen-tre, and was lucky enough to come across some notes on the building already col-lected by an earlier researcher. These were very useful to me, but unfortu¬nately neither I nor the archivists could identify the author. The notes included a list of photographs, but not copies of the photographs themselves, obviously taken before alterations to the house in the 1990s (such as inserting RSJs, breeze block walls, and eliminating the entrance passage and the stair flights on the ground floor). I’d like to know who did this research, in order to be able to thank them and acknowledge them properly in the archive if not the report, and it would also be useful to know the wherea¬bouts of the photographs or even obtain copies of them. I’d be most grateful for any light anyone in HADAS may be able to throw ,on these questions. If any member can help, please email Andrew at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to him or phone him at MoLAS.
Education on much altered footings
The Museum of London Archaeology Service was com-missioned by Rosenfelder Associates, architects, on be¬half of the Jewish Secondary School Movement, to ana¬lyse and record a standing building at 8 Shirehall Lane, Hendon, London NW4, part of the Hasmonean Primary School, at 8-10 Shirehall Lane. The building was statutorily listed as being of special architectural or historic interest, Grade 2, and the investigation, which took place in February 2001, and a subsequent report were required as a condition of plan-ning permission to demolish the building before redevelopment of this part of the school. The oldest structural remains, identified in the south-west part of the building, were timber posts and beams, probably of oak and the remnants of early timber framing, perhaps 17th century in date. These timbers may have belonged to a two- storey building constructed on this site (designated Building 1), to the west of which a set of two rooms was later added, one on the ground floor and the other on the first floor directly above. The new rooms, built of tim¬ber studs infilled with brick and including a chimney stack to one side of a hipped roof, can be dated broadly to the latter half of the 18th and the early years of the 19th centuries; documentary evi¬dence suggests that they may have existed by 1796, when Build¬ing 1 and a neighbouring build¬ing to the south (10 Shirehall Lane) were described as “two dwelling houses with coach- house, stable, out-offices, garden and a small pightle [or cultivated field]” . The first-floor room had a high ceiling with a decorated cornice and a pair of doors, the doorcases having en- gaged flat fluted columns and corner rosettes in a late 18th-century style. Most of the older, timber-framed part of Building 1 was then dismantled, retaining only the added set of rooms, and replaced by a new series of rooms, built on two floors fronting onto the street to the east and partly enclosing the retained set of rooms (a change sufficiently extensive to be designated Building 2). The new external walls were built largely of brick, with internal walls built of timber studs infilled with brick nogging, around two brick chimney stacks. A hipped roof was built over the new rooms, separate from that over the rooms retained from Building I and sur-rounded to front and sides by a brick parapet. The first- floor landing was rebuilt with a floor partly at a higher level than previously, causing one of the pair of doors in an existing first-floor room mentioned above to be sealed up; the higher level was presumably to accommodate the lower flights of the staircase, which by implication was therefore also rebuilt, or at least rearranged, at this time. The surviving timber banisters and handrail of this staircase were in a late 18th or early 19th-century style. The construction of Building 2 is documented possibly as early as 1828, when this building and its neighbour were described as “two substantial brick dwellings with stabling to each, yards and garden”, and certainly by 1840, when this site comprised a “dwell¬ing house, stabling, garden and forecourt”. According to documentary evidence a loggia in wrought and cast iron was erected against the street front, and this may have included balconies in front of full-length windows on the first floor. This loggia is documented in 1862, but may not have been an original part of Building 2 as a ground- floor window in the building was enlarged at some time to form a full-length window or glazed door, perhaps to suit the loggia. This building appeared to have been a private residence until 1922 when, according to documentary evidence, two doctors set up their practice in it. A wing was then added to Building 2, to the north, documented by 1935.This wing was constructed of concrete, brick and steel, and included a second staircase to the rear, windows with Crittall steel frames and, facing the street, a combined steel-framed door and window. Alterations were made elsewhere in similar materials, possibly at separate times: the rear and side walls of Building 2 were rebuilt; a passage from the first-floor stair landing and an adjacent room were opened up to form a single room; and probably at this time the fireplaces were blocked, the chimneys cut down and the roof coverings replaced. After 1960, the loggia was at least partly dismantled and replaced by a canted bay window on the ground floor. In about 1970 the building was taken over for use as part of an adjacent primary school. As recently as 1997, rooms were opened up to form large classrooms on the ground floor, with steel joists inserted for support in place of walls, the original staircase was removed from the ground floor, making a suitable hallway just inside a new entrance in the south wall linking the building with the rest of the school, and the first floor was vacated. The classrooms in the building were last used in 2000.
Destinations to dream of…
Inspired by the HADAS sortie to Ireland, or simply longing for a break from Britain? If either is the case, the British Museum Traveller has a wide range of escorted tours of a historical and archaeological nature. Members might like to consider the following tours which, at the time of writing, still had places available. Thebes and the Oases of the Western Desert September 29 16 days £1,990 (reduced from £2,350) The Imperial Cities of Morocco October 5 9 days £1,395 Discover Jordan October 5 9 days £1,395 Classical Turkey October 5 15 days £1,880 Beyond the Oxus: Bukhara and Samarkand October 11 10 days £1,699 Ancient Rome October 14 7 days £1,425 Discover Lebanon October 19 8 days £1,198 Egypt: The Story of the Nile October 21 14 days £1,895 (reduced from £2,150) Discover Egypt October 22 7 days £1,075 Journey through Cambodia November 2 15 days £2,395 Guatemala: Archaeology and Anthropology November 6 15 days £2,950 North and South Vietnam 15 November 16 days £2,695 For a brochure and further information, call 020 7436 7575 or visit www.britishmuseumtraveller.co.uk
Who’s now in charge, and what they’re doing
HADAS Hon. Secretary Denis Ross provides his quarterly report on committee activities The following items may be of interest to members arising from the AGM and the committee’s first meet¬ing in the society’s current year: The AGM took place on June 11 2002 and was attended by 39 members. It was chaired for the first time by the society’s new President, Harvey Sheldon. The following were elected as members of the commit¬tee: Officers: Chairman: Andrew Selkirk, Vice-Chairman: Brian Wrigley, Hon. Treasurer: Micky O’Flynn, Hon. Secretary: Denis Ross. Other members: Christian Allen, Bill Bass, Jackie Brookes, Don Cooper, Andrew Coulson, Catherine Da Costa, Judy Kaye, Eric Morgan, Dorothy Newbury, Peter Nicholson, Peter Pickering, Tim Wilkins. After the meeting, there were various presentations — organised by June Porges — relating to the society’s activities (reported in last Newsletter). The committee met on July 5 2002. The following items were among matters discussed: (a)The following appointments were made: Membership Secretary: Judy Kaye, although she has expressed a wish to be relieved of this office because of pressure of work. Co-Ordinators: Fieldwork: Brian Wrigley; Programme/ Newsletters: Dorothy Newbury; Events: Eric Morgan; Publicity: Tim Wilkins. (b)The Birkbeck course on the analysis of materials from the Sammes archives is running for the second year at Avenue House on Wednesdays from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, from September 25 2002 to March 26 2003. Enrolment forms can be obtained from me or from Birkbeck. (c)The society’s first Journal proved popular and successful. It is hoped to publish a second edition in the current year. (d)The society has purchased a new resistivity meter which is easy to use and effective. In particular, it is in use for the society’s current activities in Friary Park. (e)The society has always enjoyed a close rela-tionship with Church Farmhouse Museum in Hendon and has agreed to donate a display case to the Museum. It will indicate that the case is donated in memory of Ted Sammes. (f)The society’s website and email group con-tinue to expand. The society’s trip to Ireland took place from July 12 to 16 and was very successful — thanks to Jackie Brookes who organised it. A full report accompanies this issue of the Newsletter.
On the learning curve: it’s that time of year again
Who has enough fingers to count the HADAS members who have followed the London University extra-mural diploma or certificate course in archaeology? But still there should be new takers for these serious yet very enjoyable courses, now run under the aegis of Birkbeck. Looking at the current pattern of study, things have changed hugely since this Newsletter editor did it (I shan’t admit when). Then, each diploma course ended in an exam rather than the course work/ one major essay scheme of today and the diploma and certificate were entirely separated. But the range of study is much the same, moving through the palaeolithic and mesolithic to the archaeology of western Asia and prehistoric Europe, with a range of choices for the final, fourth year of the diploma. Even the name of David Price-Williams still features among the lecturers. But enough nostalgia, to business. In 2002-2003 all year one to three courses will run at the Institute of Archaeology, with fourth year options there (the study of artefacts) or at Russell Square (Roman Britain) or at the Museum of London (physical data in archaeology). There are a whole series of other courses run by Birkbeck, too. For details of everything in the prospec¬tus, telephone 020 7631 6627/ 6631, fax 020 7631 6686 or email archaeology& ce.bbk.ac.uk Nearer home, there is a new series of lectures — Exploring Traditional and Alternate London — at Hamp-stead Garden Suburb Institute. Lecturer for the 32-week course, which starts on Monday September 23, is well-known London historian Robert Stephenson. He will chart the development of London from prehistory, through the Roman and subse-quent periods, to the present day. Sessions will deal with city-wide topics or focus on specific districts of the capital and their historical and architectural heritage. Time is devoted to London’s legends as well as to a number of alternative perspec¬tives of the city, including its sacred sites, energy centres, dowsing surveys, folklore, execution sites, ghosts and ancient customs. The course combines a series of slide-illustrated lectures with guided walks. For more information call the Institute at Central Square, NW11, on 020 8455 9951 or visit www.hgsi.ac.uk
Did you read about
According to the Sunday Times (August 11), archaeolo-gists are to search beneath the Kremlin for a trove of gold and silver treasure, same of which may have lain hidden for more than 500 years. Valuables ranging from coins and diamonds to ecclesiastical documents are believed to have been buried over the centuries by aristocrats and monks beneath Moscow’s famous landmark, a fortress dating from 1156. Most of the digging is expected to be around the Supreme Soviet, opposite President Putin’s office. It is on the site of a monastery demolished on Stalin’s orders in 1930. At the time, dozens of golden objects, including 17th-century chalices, were found. Renovations in the basement of the Patriarch’s Palace in 1963 uncovered 13th-century jewellery and a secret 15th-century arsenal. In 1994 about 3,500 gold and silver coins from the 16th and 17th centuries were found in the building housing the president’s offices. Tatyana Panova, the Kremlin museum’s head of archaeology, said that they hoped to find relics from the era of Ivan the Terrible, the first Russian tsar, who ruled from 1547 to 1584, and also from the reign of Catherine the Great (1762-1796). The grave of the “Amesbury Archer” is considered to be the most significant Bronze Age burial so far found in Britain. Some 100 items were buried with a man aged between 35 and 50. They included three copper knives, gold earrings, five pottery beakers and two sets of flint tools, and their richness implies the owner was a member of an aristocratic elite. The grave, three miles from Stonehenge, is thought to be contemporary with the erection of the first bluestones at the monument, around 4,300 years ago. A chess figure found in Albania suggests that the game was played in Europe 600 years earlier than previously thought. The ivory piece, dating from the 5th century, was discovered by archaeologists at Butrint, an ancient Mediterranean city. It is believed to be a king or queen, as its engrav-ings include a small cross, and is thought to have belonged to a wealthy owner because of ivory’s cost and rarity at that time. Members of the Institute of World Archaeology, affiliated to the University of East Anglia, found it in a Roman mansion. They claim it is Europe’s oldest known chesspiece. Chess originated in India in the 2nd or 3rd centu-ries BC but was not thought to have spread to Europe until the 11th century. Butrint is a World Heritage Site which the institute has been excavating since 1994. Temples, a theatre and a basilica have already been uncovered. “Howling eunuchs gave their all in Yorkshire” or “Roman cross-dressing eunuch found bejewelled in his grave” are hardly the expected headlines for ar-chaeological reports in The Times or the Daily Tel¬egraph. But that is exactly how the two papers titled their accounts of interpretation of the skeleton of a young man, wearing female jewellery, found close to the North Yorkshire Roman site of Cataractonium. He is believed to have been a priest of Cybele, followers who dressed in women’s clothes and cas¬trated themselves in honour of the goddess during a spring festival called the Day of Blood.
Other societies’ events
Stanmore & Harrow Local Historical Society Wednesday September 4, 8pm Talk: The History of Harrow School, by Rita Gibbs. Wealdstone Baptist Church, High Road, Wealdstone.
London Canal Museum Thursday September 5, 7.30pm Talk: Tide Mills of London, by David Plunket. 12-13 New Wharf Road, King’s Cross, Ni. Concessions £1.25.
North London Transport Society Saturday September 7, llam-4pm Transport Enthusiasts Bazaar. St Paul’s Centre, corner of Church Street/Old Park Avenue, Enfield. Admission £1.50. Free vintage bus rides to the Royal Forest Hotel, Chingford, via scenic Lea valley. Avenue House, East End Road, N3
Sunday September 8, 3pm-5pm Garden Party with entertain-ments and refreshments, proceeds to building fund. Amateur Geological Society
Tuesday September 10, 8pm Talk: The Evolution of Planets, by Kathy Willis. St Margaret’s United Reform Church, Victoria Avenue, N3. Barnet & District Local History Society
Wednesday September 11, 8pm Talk: Nicholls Farm Revisited, by Gillian Gear. Wesley Hall, Stapylton Road, Barnet. Hornsey Historical Society
Wednesday September 11, 8pm Talk: Westminster Abbey, by Bernard Baboulene. Union Church Hall, corner of Ferme Park Road/ Weston Park, N8. Pinner Local History Society
Thursday September 12, 8pm Talk: Middlesex History Sources (from 1700) at the Public Record Office, by Paul Carter. Village Hall, Chapel Lane Car Park, Pinner.
Friern Barnet & District Local History Society Sunday September 15, 2pm Friern Hospital Tour — see 150 years of local history. Led by 011ie Natelson. Meet at forecourt of New Southgate Station. £1.
Willesden Local History Society Wednesday September 18, 8pm Talk: Great Central and Metropolitan Railways in the Willesden Area, by Peter Rousselange. Library Centre, 95 High Road, NW10.
Edmonton Hundred Historical Society Wednesday September 18, 8pm Talk: The Three Barnets, by Gillian Gear, Jubilee Hall, junction of Parsonage Lane/Chase Side, Enfield. Enfield Archaeological SocietyF
Friday September 20, 8pm Talk: E.A. Bowles of Myddleton House, by Brian Hewitt. Jubilee Hall, Enfield (as above). NB: HADAS did a resistivity survey of the bowling green lawn at Myddleton House last October.
City of London Archaeological Society Friday September 21, 7pm Talk: Excavations at Plantation House, by Robin Nielson (MoLAS). St Olave’s Parish Hall, Mark Lane, EC3.
Friern Barnet & District Local History Society Tuesday September 24, 8pm Talk: Work of the London Civic Forum, by its director, Darryl Telles. Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Road, N3,
The Finchley Society Tuesday September 24, 8pm Talk: Alexandra Palace, the History of North London’s Most Famous Building. Old Fire Station (next to Town Hall), Friern Barnet Lane, N12. Friern 13a met & District Local History Society
Sunday September 15, 2pm Friary Park Tour: a circular tour of the park and St James’ the Great Church. Meet outside the main entrance in Friern Barnet Lane. £1. NB: HADAS is currently doing a resistivity survey of the park.
Go through the closed doors
Once again the London Open House Weekend is approach-ing, the two days of the year when a variety of places throughout the capital usually closed to the public open their doors. One regular is the Mill Hill Observatory, and there will be conducted tours of Burgh House, Hampstead (in¬cluding the old wine cellars) at 3pm and 4pm on Sunday. This year’s dates are Saturday Sept 21, Sunday Sept 22. The list of participating properties is available from London Open House, PO Box 25361, NW5 1GY, (£1.50 by cheque or in postage stamps, plus an addressed A5 size envelope with 41p stamp) or look at it in local libraries. If you subscribe to the London Open House Bulletin (£13.50pa, send cheque or credit card details to London Open House (Unit Cl) 39-51 Highgate Road, London NW5 1RS, or email your details to email@example.com) you will be automatically mailed a copy of the yearly directory. Just about every London borough is joining in, but the website, www.londonopenhouse.org, tells you more.
HADAS goes to Galway July 12-16 2002
Day 1 Of feuds and forts and friaries
Ireland at last! A HADAS visit to that enticing island has often been discussed. On July 12 2002 it became a reality thanks to Jackie Brookes’s energy, determination and patience. After a 7.30arn start from Hendon and the usual tedium of check-in at Heathrow our Aer Lingus Airbus 320 landed us safely at Shannon Airport soon after 1pm. We were met by Jim Higgins, the Galway Heritage Officer and our chief guide throughout our visit, and Sean Spellissy, local historian, who rapidly whisked us away by coach to visit our first round of sites. Our route took us through Co. Clare into Co. Galway and we were given an outline history of the area as we travelled. The feuding O’Rourkes and O’Connors and O’Neills, plus the invading Vikings, can be very confusing to the uninitiated, but here we were firmly in O’Brien country. Descended from Brian Boru, King of Munster and High King of Ireland in 1002, the O’Briens remained top dogs in the area until the 17th century. We kept encountering them for the rest of the day, Our first stop was Mooghaun Hillfort which we climbed in a misty drizzle. The current Irish Great Hillfort Project aims to identify, date and plot the distribution of these monuments. Already the known numbers of forts has been doubled and modern excavation is pushing their dating back (as in England) from iron age to late bronze age. They either continued in use or were reoccupied in the iron age and, interestingly, were often again occupied in the early Christian era. Mooghaun is an impressive fort built on a heavily wooded limestone hill commanding views over the Shannon estuary and the river Fergus. Its major defences were three concentric circles of bank and dish with drystone wall, making it a cashel (stone fort) rather than a rath or lis (earthen fort). The entrance across the outer rampart and ditch was strongly fortified. Within are but circles of varying dates, and the inner enclosure had been farmed cereals, cattle, sheep and pigs. The area covered by the fort was huge, but much was demolished in the 1850s when the railway was built. Mooghaun is famous for the late bronze age gold hoard found about one kilometre north of the fort. Some of the magnificent lunulae, torcs and ear-rings are on display in the National Museum in Dublin. Gold was panned in Munster from the early bronze age and was still being mined there in the early 19th century. Our next stop was at Quin Abbey or Friary. An Anglo-Norman castle built on the site in 1280 was destroyed in 1286; its portcullis and four drum towers (three remain) were incorporated into the later Franciscan friary. The Franciscans became popular in Ireland in the 14th and 15th centuries. Their abbeys were typified by their long naves, short transepts and chancel, slender towers and triple-stepped battlements. Quin Abbey is a substantial ruin and still displays many of those characteristics. It has a most attractive vaulted cloister with coupled columns, slightly marred by clumsy internal buttresses, added later, The domestic range of buildings has an upper floor intact where one can see the latrines (always a popular feature with English tourists!) and the dungpit beneath. Although the friary was suppressed in 1451 a few friars returned to Quin and the last one died and was buried there in 1820. A short drive brought us to Ennis, the county town of Clare, built on an island or islands in the river Fergus and chosen for the O’Brien capital in the early 13th century. It is a pleasant, bustling town but we had little time to explore it, our main attention being claimed by Ennis Friary (where we met local historian Mary Kearns). Another Franciscan foundation, endowed by the O’Briens and founded in 1242, it was suppressed in 1543 and the building subsequently used as an assize court and an Anglican church. One last friar was saved by a plea that only a madman would travel about in a friar’s habit, preaching openly! He continued to live at the friary, wearing his habit and saying private masses in his own room, until his death in 1617. Superficially, Ennis Friary is less pleasing than Quin, due mainly I think to the awkward additions to the tower, but it has fascinating content: lovely window tracery from which the famous blue glass has long since disappeared; a charming little medieval carving of St Francis showing the marks of the stigmata; and the extraordinary 15th century panels from the MacMahon tomb now incorporated in the 19th century Creagh tomb. They portray scenes from the life of Christ, the most striking being the Resurrection, where a skeleton-thin Christ pushes aside his tomb slab and steps vigorously forward surrounded by slumbering guards in full medieval armour. A rather unflattering female statue on the right is said to depict Marina O’Brien-MacMahon who commissioned the original tomb. Continuing towards Galway we saw evidence of Ireland’s exceptionally wet spring in “winter lakes” — stretches of water which would normally have disappeared by now with drying winds and sunshine. Our final stop was at Kilmacduagh, an ecclesiastical and monastic settlement founded in the 7th century. Amid church ruins dating from the 10th, 12th and 14th centuries is one of Ireland’s Round Towers, 34 metres high and retaining its conical cap. The purpose of these structures is still debated: bell towers to call the monks in from the fields; a look-out (there are windows near the top); a place of refuge, with its door 8 metres above the ground? Or may be just a status symbol? We can only guess. The towers were built between the 10th and early 13th centuries and are almost unknown outside Ireland: one or two are found in Scotland and there is one at Peel in the Isle of Man. And so finally to Galway city and our own comfortable accommodation in Conib Village — but no time to do more than dump our luggage before rushing to our belated (9.15pm) dinner in the restaurant on the University of Ireland campus. It was eaten to the deafening strains of the students’ disco — a strain indeed to some of us, though music to the ears of others. Declining Jim Higgins’ kind offer of a lecture at about 10pm, we wended our way along the delightful riverside footpath back to Corrib Village, unpacking and bed. I have seldom slept more soundly.
DAY 2: reporter Tessa Smith
Fairies and the queen After the previous night’s quaint ceremony of the change ing of the keys and the discovery of a leprechaun’s boots and shaving gear in one of the rooms, we were agog and ready for Saturday’s shenanigans. In spite of the fairies, the leprechauns and the picking up of the packed lunches, we were at last off to Carrowmore and the Cerde Fields. Our guide for the day was Martin Timoney, President of Sligo Field Club and editor of the archaeological magazine. He explained that the recent huge road building schemes and development of industrial and housing areas have resulted in more than 1,000 archaeological excavations every year. Our route ran south east of the Ox mountains, through ice-age-smoothed limestone hills, and on the horizon we saw Knocknasheen iron age hill fort, Carrowkeel passage tombs and cemetery, and hill forts topped by cairns. We were surrounded by tribal centres. We travelled through territory owned by the ancient O’Hara family towards Sligo, where mesolithic shellfish middens have been excavated and where, even today, an oyster festival takes place. We stopped briefly near the Cluny Gap, through which the Sligo to Dublin steam train used to run, and two very happy HADAS members discovered a three-foot gauge railway track, platform and signal parts still in situ after 40 years of disuse. Could this be a future bobble-hat fest for Bill and Andy? Carrowmore megalithic site is one of Europe’s major passage-tomb cemeteries. The peninsula is dominated by Mount Knockarea, its cairn-topped summit the legendary burial place of Queen Maeve. The cemetery itself, roughly a mile square, contains about 30 passage tombs, many more having been destroyed in the past. Although the tombs are quite small and simple they have recently been dated to around 4,000BC, 2,000 years earlier than previously thought. The supporting stones are on either side of a passage, topped by a wedge-shaped roof-stone, and are sometimes encircled by a ring of boulders. Finds include cremated human bone, pins made of antler, flint implements and pottery. Recently the local county council decided to make a rubbish dump on top of the gravel diggings in the area. Outraged, Martin Timoney headed a team which took the CC to the Supreme Court, which judged that the county council must consult with the people, and the proposed plan for a dump was abandoned. Martin was equally horrified to see horses churning up the soil next to the ancient monuments and urged us to write to DHUCAS(Irish Heritage) to complain. In complete contrast, our next stop was at Skreen churchyard where Mary Timoney showed us the extremely high quality carving on the box tombs she has been researching. One was especially fascinating, of a wealthy farmer, dressed in top hat, tails and cravat, ploughing with two horses. It was built in 1825 and carved by Frank Diamond, the first of five generations of monumental masons. Our last visit was to the Ceide Fields, County Mayo, where a neolithic community had settled on a hillside with dramatic views over the sea. They built miles of stone-walled holding pens, round wooden houses and tombs, the stone being brought from long distances away. It was though to be a peaceful community and certainly it was a beautiful place. However, 2,000 years ago peat moss grew and entirely sealed the site in a.spongey bog. Some areas have now been excavated and the methods used is intriguing. The bog is probed by long bamboo rods, all of equal length. When one touches a stone lying deep below the bog is it left there. Continuing in the way results in a series of rods the tops of which exactly mimic the stones below. Thus, the stones lying buried can be accurately recorded. That evening Jim Higgins gave us a humorous and speedy lecture on Irish prehistory, before we strolled back to the leprechauns, the fairies and bed.
DAY 3: reporter Graham Javes Carving out legends
burial mounds, previously unrecorded. Very exciting: an illustration of Ireland’s rich monumental heritage still waiting to be discovered. We fought our way through the nettle-filled fosse of a rath to reach the mound. A rath is a particular type of ring fort characterised by earthen walls. Typical finds include iron tools, weapons and personal ornaments but rarely any pottery. If a site is waterlogged traces of wattle and daub huts may be found. Sometimes national roads have clipped forts. A few ring forts are as early as the iron age but most date from the Christian period, sometimes remaining in use as late as the 16th or 17th century. Cattle would be brought into the ring fort. Evidence may be found of iron-working, slag, moulds, the usual range of early Christian work, carved wooden objects if the ground is waterlogged, and glass. Later, chieftains would have handed over ring forts for ecclesiastical uses, churches were sometimes built within them and later still they were used for the burial of unbaptised neonatal infants. There is a strong association between ring forts and fairy folk — the so-called fairy forts where the shee lives. We climbed a mound called Gronya’s Bed, where, so the story goes, an old man, eloping with a young girl, once slept. Of unknown use, this barrow was certainly man-made. The fosse regularly floods in winter, testified by the irises growing in it. If excavated we could find a burial in the mound and secondary burial in the fosse. Next stop was Clonfert. The township was destroyed during the 1595 rebellion, as were the monastery and nunnery. Until then Clonfert, whose name means liter¬ally “the bog island of the grave”, had been a city where as many as 3,000 students studied at the College of St Brendan; today it is barely a village. Christy Cunniffe is the driving force behind the current restoration of St Brendan’s cathedral, the west end of which, with its magnificent romanesque door, was unfortunately under wraps when we visited. Near the west door Christy parted the branches of a very dense bush to reveal a pagan stone. The site has a long history stretching from pagan times through Celtic Christian, catholic and now Church of Ireland. Much of the church is pre-romanesque; projections on the west end have features based on wood¬en churches. Clonfert was pillaged several times by the Danes and the church burnt. It was again burnt in 1179 and rebuilt, when the romanesque doorway could have been added. St Brendan, the founder saint, is reputedly buried here under a coffin-shaped slab. The devil in the form of a cat cast out of the church is reputed to have left the paw mark in a stone slab, again outside the west door, but this is thought to be counter- Reformation propaganda. The churchyard is the inner sanctum or vallum of a larger site. Last year archaeolo¬gists found a second vallum or enclosure at the east end of the church. There is an open-air offering place. We dived into a wood on the edge of the churchyard where Christy showed us a holy well. Like most wells, Under the guidance of Christy Cunniffe and Jim Higgins we set out in quite heavy rain. En-route we saw several fiadh fulachta (burnt mounds). These are believed to be bronze age cooking sites, where stones were heated in a fireplace, then placed in a trough of water to boil meat. An alternative use may have been tanning. We passed remains of several tower houses, monuments which, we were told, may be seen in most parishes. It was still drizzling when we reached our first site, which was also the coffee stop, the famous Turoe Stone. The most important of five monoliths, this massive gran-ite boulder is sculpted into the shape of a domed stone 168cm high, with the upper 78cm decorated with curvi-linear ornament. Compasses, which were known to iron age man, would have been used to mark out the swirls. In pagan-Celtic times the stone would have been coloured with different light and shade worked together — almost certainly a copy of something in metal. It was very probably a phallic stone used in fertility ritual. This granite boulder, which would have stood out in the surrounding limestone country, could have been brought from either the west or the east of Ireland. Its original site was close to the Rath of Feerwore ring fort, half a mile from its present location. In the 19th century it was moved by the landowner to its present site in the grounds of The Pet Farm, Turoe House, near Loughrea. There are two main theories: the first that it is derived from continental works of non-figurative sculptors, and the second, that currently accepted and based upon its decoration, that it is largely an insular stone. Various dates from the 2nd-1st century BC have been suggested and more recently the first century AD. One writer has seen it as a stylised human head, its step-pattern repre-senting a torque. Another, the clash and union of cultures – earth and sky cultures, neighbour and invader. The only agreement would seem to be the fallback of ritual object. Coffee was served here with the most delicious scones. A few members found a football for a kick- around in a goal mouth. Back on the coach, we passed the Volunteer Arch, c.1790, but its associated Lawrence House was demol-ished in the 1930s following earlier removal of the roof to avoid payment of rates. Many houses in Ireland suffered a similar fate. This part of county Galway has been O’Madden and O’Kelly country since the 17th century. In the 13th century there was Anglo-Norman settlement in the area, but many retreated during the Black Death, At Fynagh Farm, Loughrea, we were met by the farmer, a pleasant lady just back from her duties as lay preacher in the local church. She accompanied us as we walked across several fields, which our guide had never walked before, and we found apparent bronze or iron age this spring comes and goes at intervals. A dog is alleged to have drowned in this one, after which it dried up. Later the spring came out from the trunk of the chestnut tree that we saw, but it was defiled a second time when two boys, climbing the tree, urinated into the well and it dried up. Up to the 19th century people were still using holy wells and its waters were used to cure warts. You left a part of yourself: a tradition gone by the 1980s. Today the well is used by others, especially travellers, who have come in with a different tradition: we saw rags hung from branches, nails and coins hammered into the tree. The ruined bishop’s palace had been home to 23 bishops: it was last occupied by Sir Oswald Mosley. We continued on to the Shannon Hotel, Banagher, one of several bow-fronted mid to late 18th-century houses, where we had afternoon tea or Guinness in the hotel garden on what turned into a hot afternoon, our best day weather-wise. Anthony Trollope lived and wrote here and Charlotte Brontë honeymooned. On route again, we saw a Martello tower on the riverbank near the Shannon Bridge, built to fortify the Shannon at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Continuing, we passed the Seven Sisters. This local landmark is a line of seven trees planted by one of the John Eyres to com-memorate his daughters, though in fact he had nine. At Loughrea we observed part of the original town moat as we hurried along Dolphin Street towards the friary. The moat had probably been a boundary and a sewer but today it carries a clear, fast-flowing stream. Richard de Burge founded the Carmelite Loughrea Friary about 1300. The building exterior is rather spoilt by heavy pointing. In the friary churchyard is a grave stone for a butcher, the tools of his trade, a knife and sharpening steel, carved in an oval. There is also a flat tombstone to a farmer, with harrow, coulter (for putting rims on wheels) and plough shear. By the skin of our teeth, we arrived back at the university just in time to sit down to dinner. Having been late on the previous two evenings we were under threat of a surcharge had we been late again. I should add that this in no way reflects on Jackie who was tearing her hair out to get us back on time! The after-dinner lecture, by Jim Higgins, was on early Christian churches. He showed slides of many churches that we hadn’t seen and some that we had. We learnt that there is no real romanesque architecture in Ireland but many churches with romanesque features, mostly add¬ing a window or door to an ancient church. Often churches occupied earlier, pagan sites. The monasteries intro¬duced the need to control time and built many pillar-type sundials. People often take the stones from churches but almost as often return them — either because they feel they have brought them bad luck or because they had only “borrowed” them to effect a cure!
DAY 4: reporter Barry Reilly The past in flower
The Burren plateau in County Clare, just 13 miles south of Galway city, is famous for its starkly beautiful lime¬stone landscapes, remarkable flora and rich archaeologi¬cal heritage. The words of the Cromwellian general, Edmund Ludlow, are well known in Ireland: It is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth to bury him… What is less known is that he went on to say of the people there: …and yet their cattle are very fat; for the grass growing in turfs of earth, of two or three foot square, that lie between the rocks, which are of limestone, is very sweet and nourishing. As we travelled south, our guide Dominic Monaghan explained more. “Burren” comes from the Irish for “stony place”. It consists of limestone pavements, divided by fissures into bare slabs of rock. The climate is very temperate with a high rainfall, providing an ideal envi¬ronment for the wide variety of plants which flourish in the crevices and in the thin but fertile soil which covers some areas of the rock. Our first destination, on the north western edge of the Burren, was the ruined Cistercian Abbey of Corcomroe. The Cistercians came to Ireland in 1142 and preferred isolated and underpopulated locations for their monas-teries. Nowhere is this more apparent than at Corcomroe. Known as “St Mary of the Fertile Rock”, it was founded at the end of the 12th century, probably by the King of Limerick, Donal Mor O’Brien. Built in the Hiberno-Romanesque style it is well preserved; the chancel retains its richly vaulted roof as well as a carved effigy of a bishop and one of the few effigies of an Irish chieftain to be found in the country, said to represent Conor O’Brien, grandson ofDonal, who was killed in a battle fought nearby in 1227. Part of the ruined cloister still stands, as well as what may be an infirmary or guest house and a fragment of the pointed arch gatehouse. By the 15th century it was too poor to sustain a full community of monks and the church was shortened by a roughly built wall. We moved from Corcomroe to our morning coffee stop at the attractive coastal village of Ballyvaughan. On the way, Dominic pointed out a solitary Galway hooker moored in the bay. This is the famous fishing boat of the area; its name, source of much amusement to American visitors, comes from theDutch hacker relating to hook and line fishing. No longer used as working boats, they can now be seen at various annual sea festivals in Galway. After a pleasant break in Ballyvaughan it was time to turn inland to visit one of the most famous monuments of the Burren. Poulnabrone is an impressive example of a neolithic portal tomb, a class of tomb characterised by a tripod design consisting of two tall portal stones and a lower backstone held in place by the weight of a massive capstone. Poulnabrone’s 12ft by 7ft capstone weighs 8 tonnes. In 1985 the eastern portal stone was found to be cracked and had to be replaced by a similar stone, but this provided an opportunity to excavate the burial chamber and surrounding cairn. The remains of at least 22 individuals were found with bone pendants, disc beads, quartz crystals, flint scrapers, a polished stone axe and a flint arrowhead buried in one of the thighbones. More than 60 sherds r:::” of pottery were also found. Radiocarbon results from the bones have dated the tomb from 3780 BC to 3560BC. The conclusion was that special tombs like Poulnabrone were for people of high status while others were buried in similar but less dramatic tombs. It is believed that the cairn was only a few feet high: the soaring capstone was meant to be seen. Our journey back to the coast took us through Lisdoonvarna, famous for its spa waters and annual matchmaking festival, on to the best known tourist spot in County Clare. The Cliffs of Moher are a five mile line of sheer cliffs rising at their highest to 650 ft. Formed of layers of siltstone, shale and sandstone, they are fa¬mously dramatic. Close to the highest point is O’Brien’s tower which gives an incredible view southwards along the cliffs. At least, that’s what it says here on the internet website. Unfortunately very high cliffs and very low clouds aren’t a good idea. We couldn’t see a thing. After a forlorn hour wandering up the cliff path listening to the waves hidden below and glumly surveying the various tourist sales opportunities we could wait no longer and it was time to return to Galway. Half an hour later as we sped down the coast road the sun was shining out to sea and, yes, looking back from the coach, there was the distant profile of the cliffs emerging from the lifting clouds. We consoled ourselves with a brief stop by the road-side, within sight of the Aran Islands, for a final look at the Burren and its remarkable plant life. It is the only place in Europe where Arctic, Alpine and Mediterranean plants flourish together. Botanists the world over come to study the flora at all times of year — the Burren is never out of bloom. Some in our party quickly spotted a few orchids although in May and early June they grow here by the acre. Also easily identified were bloody cranesbill and spring gentian. From here we took the coastal road along the south¬ern edge of Galway Bay, pausing only to take a brief look at Dunmory Castle just beyond Kinvara. The coach dropped us off for our final evening in Galway at O’Flaherty’s restaurant in the city centre. After a fine meal— Irish stew was the popular choice —we returned to the university having had a varied and fascinating day but grateful that we could have a lie-in the following morning.
DAY 5: reporter Andy Simpson Signals at green
All too soon it was our last morning in Ireland, with a flurry of packing and loading of the coach before head¬ing down to Galway city — founded by Anglo-Norman settlers in the 13th century, medieval city state, one time third port after London and Bristol, capital of the west of Ireland and the fastest growing city in Europe —to meet Jim Higgins once more for a walking tour of the city for those that wished. I was one of those who opted to do my own thing, give the “bobble hat” an airing and investigate the transport facilities of Galway, ancient and modern. There is much to interest the transport enthusiast. The Bus Eireann singledeck coaches are very modern, but you can still take a scenic open top ride around the city of Galway on a proper half-cab Leyland Titan bus, driven on occasion by one of our coach drivers! The railways are equally interesting. As Bill and I found out during a photographic foray on the Monday evening, the 1840s built Galway station of Irish Rail is a wonderfully evocative place, with signal box, a forest of semaphore signals, two road engine shed, working turn-table, water tower and water crane, occasionally visited by visiting steam specials, all with the beautiful backdrop of bay and mountains. The usual service is every couple of hours eastwards to Dublin hauled by 1990s-built die-sels. There is also some freight traffic serving the docks on Galway Bay. Naturally, I made a return visit on Monday morning for more piccies! Those who went on the tour visited St Nicholas of Myra Collegiate Church, built by the Anglo-Normans in 1320 and dedicated to the patron saint of all travellers. According to local tradition, Christopher Columbus heard mass here before sailing off to America. Nearby is the house of Nora Barnacle, wife of writer James Joyce, now a Joyce museum. Scattered around the city centre are examples of merchants’ houses. After checking out the large and well-appointed tour-ist information centre near the station, I then went on to do a little shopping, stopping off in the modern Eyre Square shopping centre to view the two restored “Shoe-makers” and “Penrices” drum towers. These, survivors of an original 14 towers on the walls built from 1270, connect a 60-metre length of preserved city curtain wall which features Galway’s only antiques and collectibles market. Eyre Square itself, lying at the centre of the town in front of the railway station, is pleasantly laid out as a tree-lined park, and features a plaque to the memory of assassinated US President John F. Kennedy, who was made a freeman of the city shortly before his death in 1963. Also to be seen is Lynch’s Castle, the finest surviv-ing town castle in Ireland, of 15th-16th century date with decorative features found only in southern Spain. Reno-vated in the 19th century, it is now a bank. Down by the River Corrib in Galway city is the Spanish Arch bastion, a 1594 built twin-arched extension to the city defences intended to protect the quays at a time when trade with Spain was vital to the city. Adjacent to it is the small Galway City Museum, operated by Galway City Council Heritage Office, which houses archaeologi¬cal and social history material and several relics of Gal¬way’s horse trams. It is open daily during the summer and well worth the two Euros admission charge. The Galway and Salthill Tramway operated a single route from October 1 1879, and was only ever horse operated. It linked the city of Galway with the resort of Salthill on the shore of Galway Bay and was one of the last horse tramways in Britain. The trams had ceased run-ning by May 12 1918. Some relics survive in the museum — there is a single tip-over reversible seat, hinged bulk¬head panel, ticket and original company share certificate, plus a splendid selection of railway photos and paper¬work, The museum’s social history collection includes ma-terial from The Claddagh, a fishing village formerly located on the west bank of the Corrib Estuary which existed as an outpost of Irish dress, language and culture until its traditional thatched cottages were replaced by a housing estate in 1934. Its customs included the election of a king who was commodore of the 300-strong fishing fleet; his “hooker” boat had a white sail, while those of his subjects were brown. The women all wore shawls and customarily wore the Claddagh ring, of distinctive two hands clasping a crowned heart design and used as a sign of betrothal or marriage, depending on how worn. After various members had indulged in the duty free shops at Shannon airport, the return tea-time flight to Heathrow—on the same Aer Lingus Airbus that we flew out on — was smooth as ever, with wonderful views of Buckingham Palace, Green Park, the Albert Hall and Kew Gardens on the final approach, though we did have to wait rather a long time for our luggage! Then it was back on a coach to Hendon. The end of a wonderful few days. Thanks, Jackie!
Sadly, no HADAS member was awake enough during one of the evening lectures to claim the prize of a copy of Jim Higgins’ splendid book “Irish Mermaids” for correctly identifying the site of one of his slides, reports Deirdre Barrie. Afterwards, Deirdre wrote and asked how to buy a copy, to which Jim responded by sending her two, one of which is now in the HADAS LIBRARY. The illustration right (by Michael Lerillunt)(not on internet version) of the late 15th/early 16th century carving from the screen-wall at Kilcooly, Co. Tipperary, is one of the few mermaids Jim has located outside the main concentration in Galway. They were all, he explains, a potent symbolic warning to Christians against being seduced and destroyed by lust and sexual indiscretion, and also a reminder against the sins of vanity, pride and lust. The book, which has detailed descriptions of 10 mermaids and lots of illustrations and background information, is unfortunately not available here, and Jim has very few copies left. He is however planing a revised, enlarged edition, so if you’re interested, contact him via e-mail, or write to him care of City Hall, College Road
HENDON & DISTRICT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
OUTING TO PIDDINGTON, NORTHAMPTON & CANONS ASHBY with June Porges and Stewart Wild
SATURDAY 17 AUGUST 2002This promises to be a pleasant day out north of London, with something for everybody. We have visited Piddington before, in August 1990. Sensible footwear (and perhaps an umbrella!) is essential. B.00am Coach leaves Quadrant, Hendon (opposite DSS) 8.10am Coach leaves St Mary’s Church, Finchley (top of Hendon Lane) 8.25am Coach leaves Golders Green (side entrance to Underground) We will make our first stop in Newport Pagnell for tea/coffee and biscuits at The Swan Revived. This lovely old coaching inn dates from 1540. We continue to Piddington where we will meet local archaeologists Roy and Liz Friendship-Taylor who will explain to us their more than twenty years of excavations at the site of a vast Romano-British villa and bathhouse uncovered on local farmland (see Current Archaeology # 117 and 146). It is anticipated that digging will be in progress during our visit. Access is along a half-mile footpath between fields so suitable footwear is essential. There is the possibility of transport for those who might find the walk strenuous. We shall see the Eleanor Cross at Hardingstone before arriving in Northampton, where the market square is one of the largest in Britain. Apart from the busy market, there is plenty to see and do in this charming county town: several handsome buildings, the Guildhall, the excellent local museum and art gallery, All Saints Church (fine 17th-century), and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, dating from 1100 and one of only four round churches in Britain. We shall have around two hours free time here; you can either bring a packed lunch or take advantage of local pubs and restaurants. Continue to Canons Ashby (National Trust), a wonderful Elizabethan manor house that has survived more or less unaltered since around 1710. Hear of the history of the Dryden family and see furniture and wall paintings and Jacobean plasterwork of the highest quality. Explore the gardens and the surprisingly grand village church – all that remains of the Augustinian priory from which the house takes its name. Before leaving there will be time for refreshments (not included) on the terrace or in the pleasant National Trust tearoom. COST: £18.50 per person. Includes coach, morning tea/coffee, entrance fees and gratuities. National Trust members please bring your valid membership card.