The current winter project at the Garden Room is to refurbish the finds and archive from the first phase of the West Heath Mesolithic dig, Hampstead undertaken by HADAS 1976-1981. Over the years some of the finds have been stored in a variety of places and as a result storage boxes etc have deteriorated. With the guidance of Myfanwy Stewart who dug on site and helped with the report, jobs have included sorting and reorganising finds bags into trench and layer order, re-labelling and re- bagging where necessary and finally re-boxing. Much of the find archive consists of burnt stone material, after consultation with English Heritage this has been disposed of as it has already been reported and is of no further use. Further material to be considered includes plaster casts of post/stake holes and soil/charcoal samples. The paper and photographic archive — site books, plans etc are mostly in good order but will need sorting and cataloguing. Hopefully the end result will be to deposit the finds and archive with the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC) who can make it more publicly accessible.
The winter lecture series takes place at Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley N3 3QE. Lectures start promptly at 8 pm — non-members £1, Coffee or tea 70p. Nearest tube Finchley Central.
Tues. 10th January lecture by Jon Finney, London Borough of Barnet, on “Conservation and Archaeology”.
Tues. 14th February lecture by Dr Julia Shaw, Institute of Archaeology, UCL, on “Archaeological landscapes in Central India: approaches to religious and economic change, c. 3rd century BC to 5th century AD”.
Tues. 14th March lecture (note — change of speaker) by Meriel Jeater – Assistant Curator, Department of Early London History and Collections, Museum of London: Reinventing the Middle Ages: the Museum of London’s new Medieval London Gallery.
Tues. 11th April lecture by Kathyrn Piquette, Institute of Archaeology, UCL, on “Maintaining order, fighting chaos: evidence in the Petrie Museum for Egyptian warfare.
Tues. 9th May lecture by Andy Agate, Institute of Archaeology, UCL, on “Kingsbury Old Church”.
Mitre Site Visit
During October AOC Archaeology conducted a 4 week excavation beneath a car-park to the rear of The Mitre Pub in High Street, Barnet. HADAS are interested in the site as we dug a large trench there in 1990. We found the post- medieval remains of buildings and cottages, medieval material, notably a pebbly silty layer filled with a substantial amount of medieval pot probably associated with building plots then fronting the High Street and medieval market. Also found were a couple of sherds of Roman pottery. Over the past couple years there have been further evaluation trenches by MoLAS and Wessex Archaeology. Now the site is to be developed into flats, AOC Archaeology has excavated the whole area. On the morning of Friday October 14th a small band of HADAS members were conducted on a tour by site director Cat Edwards. The main features seen were a brick capped well, a soakaway/drain system possibly 17th-18thC and most intriguingly the footings of mortared flint wall/building as yet undated. Of the flint structure Cat explained “we hope it will turn out to be a cellar because we can date pieces of bottles by their shape and style”. The rest of the site was characterised by layers of silt and gravel (the natural is a gravel and sand) much of which was truncated by pitting, quarrying and other activity. Most this contained post-medieval pot and much brick and tile. Some of the ditch, gully and pit feature may be of medieval date. Thanks to Cat, the offices of AOC Archaeology and Kim Stabler of English Heritage. The dig was also reported in 27th October edition of the Barnet Press.
Family Archaeology by Jim Nelhams
I could also have entitled this article “Digging up the relatives”. Certainly as I’ve progressed from a few known bits of information, by research and some lateral thinking and the occasional inspired guess, I’ve come to recognise a number of similarities between genealogy and archaeology, and some ways that the one can help the other. That’s not new — indeed past records of HADAS will show the work done relating to churchyards and gravestone inscriptions. The key to making genealogy easier is the same as archaeology — the information discovered needs to be published so that others can build on it, and develop it further. Let’s pause the sermon. My wife Jo and I have often thought about tracing our family history. Since I have recently retired, this year seemed a good time to start. Jo was born a member of the WILLOWS family, and our experience in tracing the memorial to her uncle, who, was killed in 1916 in the battle of the Somme, led us to believe that the name was unusual, and that this would make our task easier. We also knew that her great-grandparents, William Willows and Margaret (Lack) were buried in the churchyard of a village called Coton, just outside Cambridge. And since Jo is the youngest child of a youngest child, her great-grandfather was born in 1821, and grandfather in 1856. Previous enquiries at Coton church by Jo’s uncle led us to believe that there were no records at the church. This is true, but the parish records do still exist in the Cambridgeshire County Records Office (CRO). Hard work by members of the Cambridgeshire Family History Society has provided indexes by surname to each of the parish registers kept at the CRO. So off we went to the records office where finding records in the Coton parish registers proved quite easy, but provided a few surprises. I should explain that our knowledge up to that point was that great-grandfather had 6 children and we knew where each of them went. Before him, we knew nothing. The registers told us otherwise — he had 11 children, 5 of whom had died before reaching the age of 4. And there was a confusing practice of re-using names when a child died. So three of the children were called Peter and two of them, Margaret. Close inspection of the marriage record also showed that William was a widower. We managed to locate his first wife, but at that time could we not find what happened to her. If she had not died, a small village would certainly have known. Time running out on us, so we noted information about people named Willows in the neighbouring parishes and returned to base. It might be helpful to give a few dates relevant to family history research. Central registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages came into effect on 1st July 1837. Since then, all these events should have been recorded, though that does not mean that the information is readily available. These records are indexed on paper, are available at the Family Records Centre in Islington, but only the index. If you want to see an entry, you must purchase a copy certificate at a cost of £7 (another hidden tax!). Some records are being transcribed, but it is a long process, and priority is being given to the older records. More recent ones are going directly to computer and are accessible. Prior to 1837, most parishes kept good records of baptisms, marriages and burials, and this continued for some years after 1837. These records were then largely centralised in each county. Nationwide censuses started in 1801, though the first few did not record names, only addresses and numbers and have taken place every ten years. Effectively, the 1841 census is of limited use, 1851 to 1901 contain much useful information, though not necessarily consistent questions were asked. The policy is not to publish a census for 100 years, so those after 1901 are not yet available. Much work has been done by a number of organisations to transcribe the written information onto computer files so that they can be accessed, often at a cost. The quality of the computer data is a problem. For a census, a form was delivered to each household to be completed and collected later. Many families could not write their names, so when the form was collected, the enumerator tilled it in, and wrote the names as he thought he heard them, allowing for local accents. In a later census. the same name could have a different spelling. Then he returned home with all the forms. and re-wrote the information onto central returns, which were sent off and bound into hooks. The forms were then analysed, and in doing this, information often had a line drawn through it so that it did not get counted twice. Rather later, to computerise the information. the book pages were photographed, and the information from these copies was keyed onto computers. Plenty of opportunities for error! The good news is that family history is now big business. Lots of people are putting their own trees together, and so many of these will overlap. Several businesses exist to help, and to make money, though with large volumes, the costs are not high compared to £7 per certificate, and these organisations provide the facility to get in touch with other researchers and to share information. With these services and internet access, I have made rapid progress, and as at 10th November, the tree has grown to include over 1100 names, including people that have married into and out of the family name. During this process, I have had information from a number of people including some in Australia, Canada, South Africa and USA, and in return have provided them with the things I have found. Just yesterday, i had an email giving me another 19 people with the family name, so there is clearly a lot still to do. And Jo has learned of relations she knew nothing about and has met some of them. On another branch of the family. I have been able to put two cousins in touch that had lost track of each other over 25 years ago. I certainly don’t claim to he an expert, but I have learned a lot, and made a number of new friends. Unscrambling the history is not easy, but it’s getting easier all the time as more is transcribed onto computers. If any members want to try their own family tree, I’m happy to give advice, though without any guarantee of success. On William’s first marriage, we’ve made a lot of progress, but still not got the complete picture. • William Willows of Coton married Hannah Elwood of Boxworth on 18th November 1841 in Boxworth. (Source — Coton and Boxworth parish registers) • Daughter Hephzibah Willows was baptised at Coton on 23rd December 1842. (Coton records) • Hannah died in 1843 and was buried in Coton on 19th October (Coton records) • The 1851 census shows Hephzibah (as Elizebeth Willowes) being raised by her grandparents Thomas and Sarah Elwood in Boxworth. They also have a young daughter, Emily, born the same year as Hephzibah. • The 1861 census shows that both Hephzibah and Emily are working as servants in the nearby village of Swavesey. Hephzibah (shown as Hephzibah Willis) is working for Mr William Wickham, a maltster and master brewer employing 3 men, at the Blue Bell in the High Street. Mr Wickham was born in Hertford. A few doors away is young William Williams, an agricultural labourer. • In 1871, Mr Wickham (now spelt Wyekham) has moved back to Hertfordshire. and is now in Ware employing 4 men. Hephzibah Willows is still his servant. • On 24 August 1876 Hephzibah Willows marries William Williams at Swavesey. (Parish records and record of marriage certificate). • In the 1881 census, William and Hephzibah arc in Altofts. near Wakefield, Yorkshire. They have two children. Ethel (3) and Sidney (1). Her birthplace is incorrectly shown as Boxworth — it was Coton in all previous records. William is a railway signalman. Where did they go after that? Its interesting to speculate. Did they perhaps emigrate? Could we write a book based on their lives? The hunt continues. So how might all this help archaeology? If we are interested in who lived somewhere and how they lived, then it must help to have a written record that gives us clues. I’ve looked at a lot of the census information for a number of small villages. What I see is that: – • a lot of intermarrying between families in the same village. • large families with high infant mortality, but the eldest daughter expected at a later date to support their parents — effectively, she was their pension • most people in Victorian times got married at 21 or not at all • families stayed in the same place as long as work was available • when the work disappeared, several sections of the family would move together to find work — for example. a number of farm labourers all moving to work on the “new” railways • some new jobs came, but only lasted for a few years — a lot of the area near Cambridge was involved for a while in mining coprolite — to be used as fertiliser — until cheaper fertilisers were found elsewhere.
A sad tale or the day the roof fell in. By Don Cooper
As many of you will know, Liz and I visited the Greek Island of Santorini (also known as Thera) for a fortnight in late September 2005. Apart from the sun and the sand we went mainly to visit the archaeological sites and museums. There are two major sites, the “buried” town of Akrotiri and the site of ancient Thera. Nearly 370 metres above sea level, sit the ruins of the ancient Thera. The steep inaccessible slopes provided natural fortifications and the height above sea level offered surveillance over the South-east Aegean hence the importance of the site. The site is reached up a steep and winding narrow road and then a hard climb up an uneven path. However it is worth it!! The ruins extend over 800 metres by 150 metres and stand up to two metres tall. It was occupied from about the 9th c BC to the late Roman period. As might be expected the best preserved buildings are the later ones — the theatre, the marketplace (Agora), the Roman baths and basilicas are all prominent, as well as the sanctuaries of the ancient gods, particularly the Sanctuary of Artemidoros with its rock reliefs of dolphin, eagle and lion and the wreathed head of Artemidoros. There are remains of military building, private houses, roads, squares and a sophisticated water system. Sherds of Roman and Hellenistic pottery lie everywhere – I suppose when you have that much you can afford to leave it on the ground even if some is decorated and has inscriptions!! The other site at Akrotiri is one of the most important sites in Greece and a world heritage site. It is the ruins of a city that was buried by a volcanic explosion in 1650BC. The city was preserved under the ash, and although the site was known from the 1870s. when excavations began in the late 1960s a virtually intact settlement was found. The narrow streets are lined with two and three storey houses; there are the ruins of warehouses and shops. It has been properly described as the Greek Pompeii. Large numbers of multi-coloured wall paintings tell the story of the city and its people, their customs and culture. Masses of intact pieces of both plain and decorated pottery tell us about their life style. Most of the artefacts and the wall paintings have been removed either to the National Museum at Athens or the new Museum in Thera town dedicated to the Akrotiri site. The precious architecture of the city as been preserved up to now by an old roof erected in the early 1970s. About six years ago a new roof was planned to replace the old one as it was deteriorating and had asbestos in it. The new roof was finished this year and was being landscaped while we were there. Now for the sad bit. on our last visit to Akrotiri on 231d September we wandered around taking photographs and at 12.55 (the last photo on my camera of the site is timed at 12.51) we left the site. By 13.30 the roof had collapsed and unfortunately killed a Welsh tourist and severely injured six other tourists (two Americans. two Germans and two Croatians) — others had a lucky escape. 1,000 square metres of the 14,000 square metre roof had collapsed burying the site. It seems that the workmen landscaping the site had put down 15 ems of soil and were watering it when the roof collapsed. Three of the engineers were arrested and face trial in Naxos next year. The roof was planned with the minimum number of pillars so as not to disturb the site. Even so, when they were putting them in a Neolithic settlement was found below the 1650 BC site. Unfortunately the site has been damaged and contaminated and is unlikely to reopen for a long time – A sad end to a lovely holiday.
Brian Wrigley Memorial Bench
A group of around 15 HADAS members attended the dedication of the bench in Brian’s memory at Avenue House on 27th November. Unfortunately Joan Wrigley could not attend due to illness but their son Norman came along instead. The bench sits outside the Garden Room overlooking the park, an inscription reads — “In memory of Brian Wrigley 1926-2003 an archaeologist who loved this place”.
HADAS Xmas Dinner
Before this year’s dinner we had a tour of the London Archaeological Archive Resource Centre (LAARC). Based at in Hackney, the LAARC holds information on over 5000 sites or projects that have taken place in Greater London over the past 100 years. In addition, it stores the full archives from the majority of these. Nowadays the records and finds from nearly all archaeological work in London come here. Although the Centre has been open for some years the sheer magnetude of the archive and the work to keep it up to date continues to impress. As well as the archive, the Museum of London Archaeological Service and Specialist Service are housed here, its manager Roy Stephenson and his colleagues showed us around the different sections. Apart from the bays holding the finds on shelves and roller racking, we could inspect a room holding the reserve collection of pottery and glass from all periods — a useful way of seeing the development of styles and fashions through the ages. Another favourite was the Social and History Collection housing all sorts of ephemera from small street signs to the vehicle collection. A short drive to Islington’s Upper Street found us in the top floor of the busy Le Mercury Restaurant where we enjoyed the dinner and a few bottles of wine. Many thanks to Jackie for her organisation.
London news from the Society of Antiquaries
Edward the Confessor’s grave discovered
Archaeology made headline news on 2 December 2005 when the BBC and several newspapers reported that a ground penetrating radar survey of the area in front of the high altar in Westminster Abbey had located the site of Edward the Confessor’s original grave, along with a series of royal tombs dating from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, including a line of what appear to be diminutive graves, possibly for children. Edward’s body was moved twice in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Until now archaeologists had assumed that the original tomb of Edward the Confessor was near the present high altar, because medieval records refer to him being buried there. It is now clear, however, that the position of the altar was moved by Henry III in the mid-thirteenth century. The archaeologists have located the original tomb 10 feet behind the present altar, under the shrine built by Henry III in 1269, which still contains the remains of the saint. Warwick Rodwell, FSA, the abbey’s consultant archaeologist, called it an ‘extraordinary discovery’ of ‘unparalleled historical interest dating back to the very founding of the abbey, over a millennium ago’. The archaeological team is now preparing further investigations to establish the purpose,history and content of the main tomb and the other chambers, graves and coffins it has found, though it will use non-invasive techniques to avoid disturbing the abbey’s cosmati-work pavement, which surrounds the shrine and that was laid in 1268.
The Pumping Station at the heart of London’s historic sewage system is to be restored by the Crossness Engines Trust after receiving £99,000 in development funds and the provisional offer of a £1.4 million grant. Located on Erith Marshes in Bexley, Crossness Pumping Station was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette as part of a sewage solution to combat the cholera and typhoid outbreaks that crippled London during the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858. The system comprised 85 miles of sewers across London, and the Pumping Station was an engineering triumph, incorporating the four largest rotary beam engines in the world. Three Grade-I listed buildings will be restored, including the Boiler House, Beam Engine House and Triple Expansion Engine House, and a host of new facilities will be created, including an exhibition exploring the history of public health, pollution and the environment
OTHER SOCIETIES’ EVENTS by Eric Morgan
Thurs 5 Jan: 10.30am, Mill Hill Library, Hartley Avenue, NW7. History of Roman Watling St from Tyburn to Little Stanmore by David Baker. Talk with coffee and biscuits, 50p.
Thurs 5 Jan: 7.30pm, London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Rd, Kings Cross, N1. The Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation by Doug Beard, £2.50 concessions.
Sun 8 Jan: 2.00pm, Barnet Churches. Guided Walk. Paul Baker (lasts 2hrs). Meet outside Barnet College, Wood St, Barnet. Cost £5.
Mon 9 Jan: 3pm, Barnet & Local History Society, Church House, Wood St, Barnet, (opposite museum). Barnet Postcards by Terence Atkins.
Weds 11 Jan: 6.30pm, LAMAS, Lecture Theatre, Museum of London. The City Livery Companies Before the Reformation by Dr Matthew Davies.
Weds 11 Jan: 8.00pm, Mill Hill Historical Society, Harwood Hall, Union Church, The Broadway, NW7. The Villages of East London talk by Peter Laurence.
Weds 11 Jan: 7.45pm, Hornsey Historical Society, Union Church Hall, Corner of Ferme Park Rd/Weston Park, N8. Law & Order in 18thC Middlesex by Peter Carter.
Mon 16 Jan: 8.15, Friends of Barnet Borough Libraries, Church End Library, 24 Hendon Lane, N3. William Wilberforce by Dr Michael Worms
Mon 16 Jan: 8pm, Pinner Local History Society, Arnold Room, Methodist Church, Love Lane. Pinner. The History of the Grail by Moira lee for History Circle).
Weds 18 Jan: 8pm, Willesden Local History Society, Scout House, High Rd, (corner of Strode Rd) NW10. Willesden Shops, Brent Archives, Willesden Green Museum by M Barres-Baker, Tina Morton, Alex Sydney.
Thurs 19 Jan: 8pm, Enfield Preservation Society, Jubille Hall, Junction of Chase side/Parsonage Lane, Enfield. A walk from Muswell Hill to Hamstead in Postcards by Hugh Garnsworthy.
Fri 20 Jan: 7pm, City of London Archaeological Society, St Olave’s Parish Hall, Mark Lane, EC3. Humans After the Gap, The Palaeolithic Archaeology of Southern Britain by Roger Jacobi.
Weds 25 Jan: 7.45pm, Friern Barnet & District Local History Society, St John’s Church Hall (next to Whetstone police station), Friern Barnet Lane, N20. Nelson in Postcards by Hugh Garnsworthy.
Thurs 26 Jan: 2.30pm, Finchley Society, Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Rd, N3.The Development of Finchley High Road by Oliver Natelson.
Sun 29 Jan: 2.00pm, The Battle of Barnet 1471, Guided Walk by Paul Baker, meet Junction of Great North Rd & Hadley Green. £5.00 (lasts 2hrs)