Lectures start at 8pm in the Drawing Room (ground floor) of Avenue I-louse, East End Road, Finchley, N3, and are followed by question time and coffee. We close promptly at 10pm
Tuesday 12th NovemberLecture by Simon Parfitt on ‘The Ups and Downs of Life in the British Palaeolithic’. Simon Parfitt, who last visited HADAS in March 1996 to bring the Boxgrove Palaeolithic site to life, will offer a broader view in this lecture.
Thursday 5th December Christmas Dinner at the Meritage Club (now Age Concern), Hendon, combined with a visit to St Mary’s Norman church next door, where the Vicar, the Rev Paul Taylor, will give us a talk and tour. You will also be able to see the memorial to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), the founder of Singapore and, for the last year of his life, a Mill Hill resident, who was buried in St Mary’s churchyard.
Several members did not receive details and application form with the October Newsletter. If you require one, please Contact Dorothy Newbury. As no coach is required this year, there is no limit on numbers.
HANSHAWE DRIVE – THE (TEMPORARY) FINALE Andy Simpson
The second season of work at Hanshawe Drive (see Newsletter 379, October 2002), looking for further evidence of the Romans in Burnt Oak, has concluded with the backfilling of the trench on Sunday 29th September. We had reached a maximum depth at the western end of 1.4 metres and were still in heavily disturbed clay and demolition rubble from the earlier Wesleyan Hall. Auguring failed to indicate any end to the disturbance, just more clay, so the excavation was terminated, sections drawn and photographs taken. The high readings shown by the earlier resistivity survey are probably due to some of the (very) large lumps of concrete and masonry that we excavated. There was no indication of any activity earlier than the twentieth century in this central part of the site, so evidence complementary to the Thirlby Road Roman pits still eludes us!
LAMAS 37th Local History Conference:
Buying & Selling in Metropolitan London Eric Morgan has compiled his usual extensive list of fascinating meetings – see back page – but has asked for particular attention to be drawn to this 37th Local History Conference of the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society from 10am to 5pm on Saturday November 16th in the Museum of London Lecture Theatre. Lectures range from Shops & Trading Buildings in London 1200-1700 to a comparative study of Harvey Nichols and Harrods. Retail Trade in Medieval Pinner & Harrow may be particularly relevant to HADAS. £4 for HADAS members, including afternoon tea.
THE HAZY DAYS OF SUMMER: HADAS’S AUGUST OUTING – in three parts
We start with Piddington Roman Villa, take in a race around Northampton, attempting to take it all in, and end with the calm of the medieval, and later, at Canons Ashby
PIDDINGTON ROMAN VILLA Bill Bass
Piddington lies 6 miles south of Northampton, near the village of Hackleton and we arrived on a glorious summer’s day. Since the site is not accessible by coach we had a pleasant 15-minute walk down a farm track, passing acres of cornfields, to reach the excavation. On the way we observed a church with an unusual tower and brick-built aisles. The party was met by joint Site Directors, Roy and Liz Friendship-Taylor, who have been digging here for 23 years, as part of the Upper Nene Valley Archaeological Society. The villa was first discovered by quarrymen digging for limestone in the 1780s. They found a fine mosaic, but unfortunately little of it survived this early dig. The Upper Nene group started digging here in 1979 “just for a few weeks”. Little did they know that they would still be excavating over two decades later – with, it must be said, the help and enthusiasm of the local farmer. In August the dig is open for 3 weeks so the site was a busy scene with tents, finds processing and excavation underway. The main villa house has now been excavated and back-filled. Interestingly, it clearly developed from an Iron Age settlement, first as a simple rectangular structure which then acquired a verandah, wings, bath-houses, etc, through several phases. Two well-preserved cellar rooms were found, too, the walls reaching up to two splayed window openings. During the 4th century the building fell into ruin, but was then “squatted”, converted into several family units and, eventually, became a location for Saxon burials. Unusually, the names of two successive owners of the villa may be known: stamps on tiles have been interpreted as Tiberius Claudius Severus and Tiberius Claudius Verus. The current excavations centre on two areas to the east of the villa, one of which contained a separate bath-house, possibly for the estate workers, a workshop, a well and a stone-covered drain. The other area near to the villa entrance was assumed to be a stable or outhouse, but digging is now revealing stone foundations and post-pads for several walls and rooms. The latest idea is that this may be an even earlier villa building, but much more work remains to be done. Running through both areas could be seen the remains of the villa boundary wall, which would have surrounded the whole complex. And this new section is not the end of the surprises. Some earlier finds, bronze cavalry fittings, imported pottery, etc, had pointed to a Roman military presence on the site, but without a real context. Current work is looking at the exciting theory that a field directly adjacent contained a fort or camp. Aerial photography, resistivity and excavation of ditches and boundaries are being used to test this theory, giving possibly a further twenty-year campaign for the Upper Nene Archaeological Society. In the summer heat our guides had to compete against a combine harvester going about its work in a nearby field and later a fly-past by a Gypsy Moth and then a Chipmunk Trainer which peeled off and did a ‘circuit’ of the excavations for our admiration. Our thanks to Roy and Liz for their time and care. Further reading: Current Archaeology 146 (1966).
NORTHAMPTON By Barry Reilly
On the outskirts of Northampton our coach paused for a view of the Queen Eleanor Cross, one of the three remaining crosses in England erected by King Edward I to mark the resting places of his wife’s funeral cortege. In Northampton itself we had two hours free time for lunch and sightseeing The Guildhall, built in 1864, is Northampton’s most prestigious building. Usually described as a gem of Victorian Gothic architecture, its interior is a wealth of colour and decoration – allegedly: we were deterred from going inside, unnecessarily as it happens, by the sight of a wedding party at the entrance. Definitely closed and inaccessible was All Saints Church. The original church was largely destroyed in the Great Fire of Northampton in 1675. Five years later it was rebuilt with the help of 1000 tons of timber contributed by Charles II, which explains why his statue adorns the portico parapet. Anyone disappointed at being unable to see inside the church can find a number of photographs on the church’s website: www.allsaintschurchnorthampton.co.uk. An interesting footnote: the poet John Clare was admitted to a Northampton lunatic asylum in 1841 where he remained until his death in 1864, but he had considerable freedom and it was his habit to sit under the portico, sometimes exchanging his verses with passers-by for chewing tobacco. Northampton’s oldest standing building is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Round Church, built by Simon de Senlis, first Earl of Northampton, as thanksgiving for his safe return from the Crusades. It is one of only nine round churches built in England in the Middle Ages; the design was based on the church of the same name in Jerusalem. It originally consisted of a round nave and a straight chancel, but between the 12th and 14th centuries two northern aisles and a southern aisle plus the tower and spire were added. After falling into disrepair down the centuries, it was restored by George Gilbert Scott and reopened in 1864, much as we see it today. In the porch of the south door is a curiosity: a carved stone sundial showing not the time of day, but the times of services. The porch leads into The Round, the most important architectural feature, which is supported by eight massive circular Norman pillars. The rest of the church has many interesting features, too numerous to mention here, representative of its long architectural history. Another interesting footnote: a stone bench used to run round the circumference of the church; in Norman times most of the congregation stood or knelt, but children and the elderly sat on the bench. This is one explanation for the saying: The weakest go to the wall”. The final notable Northampton landmark which some of us managed to visit was the Central Museum and Gallery. Northampton is, of course, known for its centuries-old tradition of shoe making and the Museum houses the world’s largest boot and shoe collection. However, like All Saints, this too was closed (for refurbishment) the day HADAS came to town. But there was much else to enjoy, including displays of leathercraft, oriental and British ceramics and 15th-18th century Italian painting. Of special interest were the rooms devoted to local history and archaeology; the ‘Hamtun’ gallery traces the early history of the area with impressive archaeological finds from the Iron Age, the Roman town of Duston and the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Hamtun, the precursor of Northampton.
CANONS ASHBY: THE LAST STOP OF THE DAY Jean Bayne’s Report
An enchanting medieval manor house was our last Northamptonshire visit of the day. Canons Ashby takes its name from an Augustinian Priory built on the site between 1147 and 1151. None of the original priory, save the church tower, remains and the present house was built on the site of ‘Wylkyns farme’ after the dissolution of the monasteries in the latter half of the 16th century. The Dryden family owned, created and reshaped the place over 4 centuries. its character as a living, evolving house, is reflected in changing patterns of building and organization. Although spacious, the house does not have a grand, formal atmosphere. Its scale suggests a large family home and it is easy to imagine a bustling household, albeit austere rather than extravagant, maintaining the Puritan traditions of its owners. Indeed, until 1938 there was only one cold water tap in the house and no telephone or electricity until 1947. Much of the food was provided from the estate itself: venison, rabbits, mutton and more. The kitchen was modernised in Victorian times replacing the open fire and spit. The Victorian range, still on view, was in use until World War II. Close by was the Winter Parlour, originally the family dining room, but designated the Upper Servants’ Dining Room in 1710. The most striking feature of this room, and perhaps of the whole house, was the walnut panelling, decorated with the crests and coats of arms of local families. This was commissioned in the 1590s, and only re-discovered in the 1980s under layers of paint. A ‘new’ family dining room, on the other side of the house, was remodelled in 1710 by inserting sash windows, lowering the floor, resetting the door and decorating the walls with fine oak panelling and Corinthian pilasters. The effect was intended to be both fashionable and elegant. A Grand Hall with leather buckets, horseshoes, replicas and pictures of weapons and armoury, in¬tended to be an impressive entree to the house, had become a family billiard room by the 19th century. The staircase, with its grand newel posts and intricate carving was an early 17th century attempt to provide a grand route to the upstairs drawing room – the magnificent centrepiece of the house. There a fireplace and overmantel, intricately carved and ornately decorated, dominate the room. In 1632 a plasterwork ceiling was added, featuring thistles, pomegranates and Red Indian princesses! One room is named after the 16th Century poet, Edmund Spenser, who was related by marriage to the Dryden owners (and the poet John Dryden was a cousin). Upstairs, the main bedroom displays fine furnishings, among them a settee with vivid 18th century embroidered covers and a 19th century four-poster bed that re-uses seven splendid 16th century panels. Outside are lovely gardens, restored by the National Trust from near dereliction and planted with, among other delights, 16th century varieties of apples and pears. From the pleasant tea room in the former stable block a short walk brought us to the church, originally built by the Augustinians on the scale of a small cathedral. This has been extensively demolished and rebuilt to suit first Puritan then Anglican tastes. The most striking objects now are the funerary regalia of Robert Dryden (d. 1708): his banner, pennant, crested helmet, gauntlets, spurs, tabard, sword and shield still hang in the church. June Porges and Stewart Wild are thanked, yet again, for a fascinating and varied day out.
BROMLEY MUSEUMS By Andy Simpson
I recently had occasion to visit the Bromley Museum to pick up some aircraft instruments they were kindly passing on to my employer, the RAF Museum. This involved a trip by rail to the outer reaches of Travel Card Zone 6, the nearest rail station being Orpington, 20 minutes out of London Bridge. It was well worth the trip, however; as some readers may know, the area has a strong Roman theme. Bromley Museum itself is situated a brisk 20 minute walk from Orpington station, along the modern Orpington High Street and up Church Hill to The Priory, sharing a pretty park-centre site with Orpington Library and open daily in the afternoon 1pm-5pm, and from 10am on Saturdays. The museum/library building itself is a stone and half-timbered medieval/post-medieval structure, formerly a manor of the Priory of Christ Church Canterbury, built in 1290. Admission to this Registered Museum is free.
The upstairs archaeology display includes prehistoric stone tools and a good assortment of Roman pottery from local sites, which has recently been studied by a student undertaking a thesis on the wear patterns in Samian ware – apparently mixing drinks left distinctive wear patterns in the base of the vessels! There is also a good selection of Saxon weapons and grave goods. The displays include items from the private collection of Victorian MP and banker Sir John Lubbock, 1st Lord Avebury, who introduced Bank Holidays. There is also a reconstructed 1930s dining room and a variety of temporary exhibitions. The Museum is linked with several local archaeological sites, including Crofton Roman Villa, adjacent to Orpington Railway Station and Crofton Halls, open Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays, Easter to October, and staffed by the Kent Archaeological Rescue unit who excavated and restored the site. Admission is a paltry 80p! There is a sales desk, graphic displays and replica Roman objects, taped commentary and a short talk by an archaeologist. This classic example of a winged corridor villa was inhabited c. AD 140-400 and had some 20 rooms at its peak. Today, the remains of ten rooms can be viewed within a modern cover building., with opus signinuin (concrete) floors, tiled floors and a hypocaust all to be seen. Not far away is the Romano-British bath-house and Anglo-Saxon cemetery at Poverest Road, St Mary Cray, to which visits can be arranged through Bromley Museum (telephone 01689 873826 or e-mail email@example.com). This is also protected by a cover building and consists of three rooms; it may have belonged to a farmhouse complex, or small settlement, close to the River Cray, there being a number of Roman sites on both sides of the river. Part of the hypocaust heating system, with its associated pilae, can still be seen. The building was excavated in 1970-75 by the then curator of Bromley Museum; further excavation by the Museum and Orpington & District Archaeological Society in 1993 indicated a construction date of about AD270 and found evidence of nearby metal¬working with discovery of crushed slag overlying a partly mortared floor. Occupation here also continued until around AD400. Finds from the bath-house and from the nearby Saxon cemetery are in Bromley Museum.
Bibliography Missing from the October Newsletter: Roman Hendon – The Evidence
Andy Simpson has provided the following. Brief progress notes in HADAS Newsletters 331 (October 1998) and 332 (November 1998) Various HADAS Newsletters from No.1 October 1969
Roman Roads in & around the London Borough of Barnet Stephen Aleck (unpublished paper) June 1998
Town Trail 1: Hendon Barnet Library Service/HADAS June 1979
Church Farmhouse Bill Bass HADAS Journal Vol.1(pp11-20) 2001
The Buildings of Roman Britain Guy de la Bedoyere Batsford 1991
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Placenames (4th Edn) Eilert Ekwall OUP 1960
Roman Hendon HADAS 1971 An Investigation of Roman Road No.167 Brian Robertson Trans. LAMAS, 22, part 3 (pp 10-29)
1970 Roman Material Found at Grove House, Hendon in 1889 Brian Robertson Mid 24 (pp146-150)
1973 A Moulded Face-flagon Neck from Church Terrace, Hendon Edward Sammes Mid 28 (pp272-3)
1977 Pinning Down the Past – Finds from a Hendon Dig Edward Sammes HADAS 1986
A Place in Time Ed. Pamela Taylor 1989 Sulloniacis – A Dampener for Sun Worshippers?
Pamela Taylor HADAS Newsletter 333, p2 Dec1998 Parish Church of Hendon St Mary, Visitor’s Guide (no date)
A Roman Presence in the Borough of Barnet (Gazeteer of all known Roman rinds in the Borough) Helen Gordon HADAS Newsletters 102 & 103 Aug & Sept 1979
Hendon Church Farm House Excavation 1993, Interim Report HADAS June 1994 London Fieldwork & Publication Round-up London Archaeologist Annual Publication Various issues
OTHER SOCIETIES’ EVENTS from Eric Morgan
Thursday 7th November 7.30pm. THE LONDON CANAL MUSEUM, 12-13 New Wharf Rd, Kings Cross, Nl. FURTHER SECRETS OF THE LEA VALLEY. Talk by Dr Jim Lewis (£1.25)
Wednesday 13th November 8.15pm. MILL HILL HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Harwood Hall, Union Church, Mill Hill Broadway, NW7. TOTTERIDGE TALES – RICH & POOR. Talk by John Heathfield (HADAS member)
Friday 15th November 8pm. ENFIELD ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, Jubilee Hall, junction Chase Side/Parsonage Lane, Enfield. THE PORT OF ROMAN LONDON. Talk by Bruce Watson
Friday 15th November 7pm. CITY OF LONDON ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY, St Olave’s Parish Hall, Mark Lane, EC3. EAST LONDON ROMAN CEMETERY. David Bowsher (MoLAS)
Tuesday 19th November 2.30pm. EDMONTON HUNDRED HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Jubilee Hall, jn. Chase Side/Parsonage Lane, Enfield. DR JOHNSON’S LONDON. Natasha McEnroe
Tuesday 19th November 8pm. NATIONAL TRUST (BARNET ASSOCIATION) at St Mary Magdalene Hall, Atheaeum Rd, Whetstone, N20_ REFLECTIONS ON SERVING THE NATIONAL TRUST FOR ONE-THIRD OF ITS HISTORY. Talk by Tom Burr MBE
Wednesday 20th November 6 for 6.30pm. LAMAS at Interpretation Unit, Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2. ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF THE GOLDSMITHS’ COMPANY. David Beasley
Wednesday 20th November 8pm. WILLESDEN LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY at Willesden Suite, Library Centre, 95 High Rd, NW10. HIGH ROAD WILLESDEN. Talk by Committee members, slides Wednesday 20th November 8pm. ISLINGTON ARCHAEOLOGY & HISTORY SOCIETY. Islington Town Hall, Upper St, N1. ROMAN REMAINS AT LEFEVRE WALK, PARNELL ROAD. Talk by Robin Taylor-Wilson
Thursday 21st November 8pm.ENFEELD PRESERVATION SOCIETY. Jubilee Hall, jnct’n Chase Side/Parsonage Lane, Enfield. THE SPAINISH FLU IN EIVHELD 1918. Talk by Graham Dalling
Saturday 23rd November 1 lam to 4 pm. NORTH LONDON TRANSPORT SOCIETY, St Paul’s Centre, corner of Church St & Old Park Avenue, Enfield. NORTH LONDON TRANSPORT BAZAAR. Transport-related goods, photographs, books, videos, memorabilia, etc. Historic buses give free rides round local scenic area. light refreshments. Admission £1.50.
Thursday 28th November 8pm. THE FINCHLEY SOCIETY, Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Rd, N3. TRADING STANDARDS AUTHORITY WORK & YOUR RIGHTS AS A CONSUMER. Talk by Catherine Townley
Tuesday 26th November 8pm_ FRIERN BARNET & DISTRICT LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY. Old Fire Station (next to Town Hall), Friern Barnet Lane, N12. CARING FOR FRIERN BARNET. Talk by Karl Ruge
Wednesday 27th November 8pm. BARNET & DISTRICT LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETY. Wyburn Room, Wesley Hall, Stapylton Rd, Barnet. AGM.
Wednesday 27th November 7.30pm. FRIENDS OF BRUCE CASTLE, Bruce Castle Museum, Lordship Lane, Tottenham, N 17. MEDIAEVAL LONDON, LOST & FOUND. Talk by Bruce Watson
Sunday 1st December 10_30am_ HEATH & HAMPSTEAD SOCIETY, Burgh House, New End Square, NW3. ARTEFACTS OF THE HEATH. Walk led by Michael Welbank (donation £1)