NEW SERIES OF TIME TEAM
That time-honoured feature of winter Sunday evenings is back-the new series of Time Team. Channel 4, around 5.30pm (times and transmission order may vary); Series started 22 January. See www.channel4.com/history/timeteam.
5 February 12 February 19 February 26 February 5 March 12 March 19 March 26 March 2 April 9 April 16 April
Rubble at the Mill-Birth of the Industrial Revolution in Manchester
The First Tudor Palace? — Esher, Surrey
The Boat on the Rhine — A Roman boat in Utrecht, Netherlands
Court of the Kentish King — Eastry, Kent
The monk’s manor — Brimham medieval monastic farm
Castle in the Round – Queenborough, Kent
Sussex ups and downs — Blackpatch, Sussex
Birthplace of the Confessor — Islip, Oxfordshire
Early bath — Ffrith, North Wales
Scotch Broth — Iron Age life at Applecross near Skye
The taxman’s tavern — A Roman Mansio at Alfodean, Sussex
HADAS DIARY-Forthcoming lectures
Tues. 14th February Our Valentine’s Day lecture is by Dr Julia Shaw, Institute of Archaeology, UCL ‘Archaeological Landscapes in Central India: approaches to religious and economic change, c.3rd century BC to 5th century AD
Tues. 14th March Merial 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.11 th April Kathryn Piquette, Institute of Archaeology, UCL ‘Maintaining order, fighting Chaos: evidence in the Petrie Museum for Egyptian Warfare’ (then judge for yourselves how accurate those ‘Battle’ scenes in the recent Sunday evening BBC ‘Egypt’ programmes really were)
Tues. 9th May Andy Agate Institute of Archaeology, UCL ‘Kingsbury Old Church’ (Andy is a member of the Wednesday evening course working on the Ted Sammes Hendon Church Terrace site for publication, and dug with as at Church Farmhouse Museum in 2005)
Wednesday August 30 — Sunday September 3 2006 Annual HADAS Long Weekend — Devon and Cornwall Booking form enclosed with this newsletter.
As ever, lectures take place at Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley N3 3QE. Lectures begin at 8pm. Non-members £1; tea/coffee & biccie.s. 70p. 15-minute walk from Finchley Central tube station; several nearby bus routes; limited parking.
PRIESTS AND STONES by Andy Simpson
In November 2005, an old Primary School Friend kindly invited me to his Licensing as Parish Priest, giving the opportunity for a few days exploration of the Gloucester region, as his new Church is St Mary the Virgin, Newent, in the Forest of Dean, some 9 miles west of Gloucester — ‘Diocese of Gloucester -The Parish of Newent and Gorsley with Cliffords Mesne’ His new church is actually a splendid medieval building with some interesting Saxon carvings visible. The licensing went splendidly, with a full church with the Bishop of Tewkesbury officiating over an enthusiastic and uplifting service, with the keys to the church formally handed over at the door. My comfortable accommodation was right opposite in The George Hotel, a typical coaching Inn, dating back to 1649, with some excellent real ale-and real cider, being Gloucestershire-available at the bar. The pretty market town of Newent is billed as ‘The Onion Capital of the World’, with the revived `Newent Onion Fayre’ held annually in September, attended by some 15,000 people. The smallest of four towns in the Forest of Dean district, it once lay on the Drover’s road from Wales, and has several local attractions including the Shambles Victorian village, two vineyards, and, close by, the National Birds of Prey Centre. Two miles away is May Hill, at 900 feet the highest point in Gloucestershire, with views of seven counties from the top, In the centre of the town is the half-timbered Market House, dated 1668, which in the summer houses the Newent Heritage Museum, with displays on the considerable Roman activity in the area; the second-century civil settlement spreads over some 117 acres, with evidence of iron working and a villa. The medieval priory fishponds survive as Newent Lake and Park, and a certain Dick Whittington lived at nearby Paultney. In the seventeenth century, Huguenot glassmakers settled in the area, with traces of their kilns near May Hill. The town centre has some lovely brick and timber Elizabethan/Georgian/Victorian buildings, some 50 of which are listed, and a comfortable atmosphere. The thirteenth century St Mary’s Church has the largest unsupported wooden ceiling in England, a portion of early ninth century Northumbrian style Saxon cross shaft in the porch, discovered in the churchyard in 1907. One face shows the Fall of Man, with the serpent entwined around the Tree of Knowledge between the figures of Adam and Eve. Alongside the cross-shaft are two huge seventh century grave slabs with incised decoration of Celtic workmanship, of unknown provenance. There are casts of other pre-conquest carvings found around the church on display inside, the originals being with Gloucester Museum. One of these, displayed in the Lady Chapel, is a cast of a unique carved stone tablet, ‘The Newent Stone’, just six inches across, which was found serving as a pillow stone in a medieval grave in 1912, and shows ‘The Harrowing of Hell’ on one side and ecclesiastic with pectoral cross on the other —it may be of eleventh century date and have originated as a portable altar; other fragments are seventh/eighth -century Celtic, possibly originating with a monastic community at Newent founded by Irish monks. The church nave was partially rebuilt in the seventeenth century after a partial collapse under a heavy weight of snow in 1674, and the tower is fourteenth century, with a 153-foot spire. The timber ceiling, built after the style of the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, measures 75 feet by 50 feet. Needless to say, some time was also spent exploring the very vestigial remains of Newent Railway Station, which opened in 1885 on the Gloucester to Ledbury Line, but lost its passengers in 1959 and its goods tracks in 1964. In GWR days the line was known as the ‘Daffodil Line’ with hordes of 1930s day-trippers heading out from London to pick and enjoy said flowers which grow wild in huge numbers in the area.
Old Four Legs Lives On By Stewart Wild
Since schooldays I have been fascinated by the story of the coelacanth, the world’s most ancient fish, thought to be extinct until a specimen was brought ashore in December 1938 in the net of a trawler that had been fishing in the Indian Ocean off East London, South Africa. It was taken to a local museum where the curator, a young lady named Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, made detailed notes and contacted James Smith, a university professor and amateur ichthyologist. The species was later named Latimeria chalumnae in her honour. The coelacanth (Gr. hollow spine) is the last of the crossopterygii, an ancestor of the amphibians. Because its paired fleshy limb-like fins move in a similar fashion to human arms and legs, the professor dubbed it “Old Four Legs”. The fish was indeed a 350-million-year-old “living fossil” and its discovery was astounding, equivalent to coming across a live dinosaur. It has a sort of blotchy steely-blue colour, chubby fins, skeletal structure and large, round scales, and is almost unchanged, physically and genetically, from its fossilised ancestors that inhabited the oceans hundreds of millions of years ago. In the 1940s and 50s further specimens were found which led to the discovery of the first documented colony of these strange creatures, at great depths off the Comoros Islands, between northern Mozambique and Madagascar. Over the years the coelacanth, which averages 1.5m in length and 50kg in weight, has attracted a fervent following of scientists, divers and explorers and may have been the inspiration for the monster that starred in the 1954 horror movie The Creature from the Black Lagoon. I was enthralled finally to see an actual coelacanth, not alive unfortunately, but preserved in a tank in the local museum at Moroni, in the Comoros Islands, when I visited this part of the world in April 1996. It was a weird and memorable experience that I wrote about in a HADAS newsletter later that year. Since then a lot more has become known about these prehistoric creatures. In 1-997 Dr Mark Erdmann, a Canadian biologist, recognised a specimen in a market in Manado, at the northern tip of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, east of Borneo and 10,000km east of the Comoros Islands. Another was found in 1998. The local people were familiar with the fish, which they called raja laut or “king of the sea”. The Sulawesi specimens were slightly different from the Comoros coelacanths in that their colour was brown, and they were subsequently classified as a separate species, Latimeria manadoensis. Five years ago a team of South African divers, using special equipment, located coelacanths off the Comoros Islands at a depth of 100 metres, shallow for the fish but so dangerous for divers that three of the team sadly lost their lives. Professor Hans Fricke, of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, later used a submersible to discover more than 100 coelacanths at depths of between 150 and 200 metres living in submarine caves deep in the sides of these volcanic islands. The fish are very lethargic and swim very slowly, using currents to move around. Prof Fricke and his colleagues have been analysing the DNA structure of 47 coelacanths found in various locations off the African coast. The samples are remarkably familiar, differing in most cases by only a single letter of DNA code. “They are all terribly inbred,” said the professor, “all belonging to a single slowly- dispersing family.” Studies of the Equatorial Currents suggest that the African coast coelacanths could have originated, like the Indonesian species, from a common ancestor between five and 11 million years ago. One female specimen found off Madagascar in 1991 by Prof Fricke contained 26 young — just the kind of fish that could found a new population. Dr Erdmann and other ichthyologists believe that the Latimeria species may have been broadly distributed throughout the Indian and Pacific oceans for millions of years prior to the formation of the Indo-Australian arc as a result of tectonic plate movements in the Miocene era — roughly five to 25 million years ago. This greatly restricted the flow of currents between the Pacific and Indian Oceans and may have led to genetic divergence between the two coelacanth species. Professor Fricke now believes that one day we will discover an ancestral population of coelacanths somewhere in the western Pacific. Here the sea has an average depth of 4,570m and there are deep canyons, for example in the Mariana Islands, where the ocean floor plunges to over 11,000m below sea level. There is still much to learn about these extraordinary creatures. For pictures, further information and news the website www.dinofish.com is well worth a visit. With acknowledgments to an article in the Daily Telegraph by Roger Highfield.
London’s Jewish Museum
£4 million has been pledged by HLF to London’s Jewish Museum with the aim of creating what is currently one of the city’s less well-known museums into a world-class museum exploring the heritage of the Jewish community. As a legacy of its amalgamation from the former Jewish Museum and the London Museum of Jewish Life, the collection is currently split over sites in Albert Street, Camden Town, and at the Sternberg Centre in Finchley. The grant will extend the flagship site in Albert Street so that both collections can be combined in one location for the first time and will triple, the amount of space currently available. The museum’s collections are of international importance. They cover the history, culture and religious life of the Jewish community in Britain and beyond from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century, and include one of the world’s finest collections of Jewish ceremonial art, one of the largest collections of Jewish prints and drawings, photographs, an extensive oral history archive and material relating to refugees from Nazism and Holocaust survivors. Rickie Burman, Director of the Jewish Museum, said: ‘We are thrilled at the news … this is the largest single such award ever received by a Jewish communal organisation. The real work begins now as we fundraise to match this funding and to achieve our £8.4 million target’.
HARROW; LAND AT THE ROYAL NATIONAL ORTHOPAEDIC HOSPITAL, BROCKLEY HILL, STANMORE by Peter Pickering
From the latest Greater London Archaeology Quarterly Review, courtesy of Peter Pickering; Borough: HARROW; LAND AT THE ROYAL NATIONAL ORTHOPAEDIC HOSPITAL, BROCKLEY HILL, STANMORE; Arch Org: Cotswold Archaeological Trust; Report Type: Evaluation Site Code: RYNO5 Grid Ref: 517000194000 An archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Cotswold Archaeology during June and July 2005. 20 trenches were excavated across the proposed development area. Roman pits and ditches were recorded within four trenches in the south-eastern corner of the site, identifying a zone of principally late 1st and 2nd century activity including evidence for metalworking, perhaps on the periphery of pottery production sites of similar date noted during earlier archaeological excavations to the north and east of the site. In addition, a pit dated to the 3rd century AD may suggest activity on the site after the main period of pottery production had ceased. Archaeological deposits in these trenches lie at a minimum of 0.25m below present ground level, and generally at depths of 0.5m or more below modern ground level. Evaluation trenches across the remaining areas of the site contained evidence for modern landscaping, including dumping of material and truncation of former soil horizons, but no archaeological features pre-dating the post-medieval/modern period.
Heritage will ‘save the Thames Gateway’s soul’-Via the Society of Antiquaries.
Perhaps it is an apocryphal story, but a senior cabinet minister is reported to have expressed the view a couple of years ago that the Thames Gateway was a heritage-free area. Leaving aside the fact that the area is one of the richest in England for natural heritage and biodiversity, English Heritage has gone a long way to correcting such erroneous beliefs with the launch of a new publication, called Growing Places. This not only maps the historic environment of the entire Thames Gateway region, it also identifies more than 100 historic hubs – towns, cities and villages – that have historic assets with the potential to act as a catalyst for revitalising the whole area. Speaking at the launch of the book at the Thames Gateway Forum in London on 23 November, Simon Thurley, FSA, MIFA, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: ‘Heritage- led regeneration brings out the soul of a place by drawing out the features that make it loved, welcoming and unique. Identifying and then regenerating historic hubs provides an economic, geographic and civic focus for new places. Even more importantly, it prioritises improving quality of life for the communities that are already there. Instead of looking at the Thames Gateway as a blank canvas, we have to understand its historic context and recognise the historic assets that we already have. How could you successfully revitalise a place like Queenborough, for example, if you didn’t know anything about its maritime heritage?’ Simon continued: ‘To get the most out of the Thames Gateway in the future, we must care about our heritage, and invest in it. Our heritage is a priceless heirloom. If you get a chip in a Ming vase, you don’t just throw it away, and then nip out to Ikea for a replacement. You restore it. And the same should be true for urban and rural regeneration. English Heritage isn’t interested in building film sets, or recreating Victorian high streets to the last detail. We want to strengthen the historic character of places, and use it to create a distinct focus for new communities. That means fixing up the heirlooms, weeding out the rubbish and then working together to fill in the remaining gaps in the built environment. The Thames Gateway’s Georgian and Victorian high streets and medieval ports were all but lost under layers of grime and dereliction. But now, through investment in its historic hubs, the area is rediscovering its soul.’ Simon went on to cite Gravesend as an example of heritage-led regeneration: ‘Not so long ago, the centre of Gravesend was a grey area, a vacant, boarded-up space. Now, it has a lively high street which makes the most of its historic buildings.’ Likewise, ‘Rochester is also a beautiful historic city, yet until recently, the most memorable and distinctive thing about Rochester High Street was the thundering stream of traffic running through it. Six years of heritage-led regeneration has renovated more than seventy buildings on Rochester High Street and visitors to Rochester can now walk down a fascinating, welcoming and bustling street.
Christmas Dinner Thanks —Jackie Brookes
adds that it was omitted from January’s Newsletter that the wine at our Christmas Dinner at Le Mercury was kindly donated by Molly Dicker’s family in her memory.
Just a couple of lines spare to recommend Barnet Borough Heritage Officer Hugh Petrie’s new book, ‘Hendon & Golders Green Past’ in the extensive Phillimore & Co ‘Past’ series. 160 pages, hardback, price £15.95; ISBN 1-905286-02-3, published 2005. Plenty of illustrations including a number not familiar to this reader.
A day on the Thames by Andy Simpson
One habit I seem to have got into in recent years is my annual trip down the Thames on PS Waverley, the world’s last sea-going paddle steamer, operated by Glasgow-based Waverley Excursions Ltd. Throughout the summer and autumn, the vessel sails right around the UK coast, operating excursions out of Southend, Strood, Woolwich, Clacton, Ipswich, Margate and Whitstable, Ramsgate, Great Yarmouth, Southwold, Folkstone, the Isle of Wight, Bournemouth, Eastbourne, Southampton, Portsmouth, Weymouth and Swanage in the south. Therefore, Sunday morning 2 October 2005 found me at Tower Pier, opposite the moored WW2 cruiser HMS Belfast, queuing 4m. the usual ‘Southend and Thames Forts’ full-day cruise — yours for only £34.00, including fuel surcharge. This regular cruise pauses at Tilbury and Southend before heading out into the mouth of the Thames Estuary to view the wartime anti-aircraft forts and passing shipping. An early highlight is seeing the bascules of Tower Bridge open for the Waverley to cruise through in stately manner, her mast just passing neatly between the two lifting halves of the bridge-the deck was crowded with passengers eager to see this spectacle. The weather was sunny, calm-and cold, so pretty much ideal cruising weather! The ship follows the Thames past riverside flats, many of them converted from former warehouses, Canary Wharf and Docklands developments, the Millennium Dome, Greenwich waterfront, including the magnificent former Royal Naval College, now University buildings, the tea clipper Cutty Sark, through the Thames barrier-always an experience-past the Woolwich Ferry and the very sweet-smelling Tate and Lyle Sugar Refinery at Woolwich-now the furthest point upstream regularly reached by large vessels since the closure of the London docks – and on past Tilbury to Southend, returning back to Tower Pier around 8.15, so you get a very full day out. Other highlights included passing various Thames dredgers on their forays out into the estuary to scoop up sand and gravel for transfer to Thameside aggregates processors, passing under the rather impressive Queen Elizabeth Bridge carrying the M25 over the Thames (the wonderful red sunset over the bridge on the way back being particularly magnificent), the rather empty-at-the-time Port of Tilbury and the sunken section of D-Day Mulberry Harbour off Southend that sank on its way from the shipbuilder’s yard. We also pass close to the sunken wartime Liberty ship, the Richard Montgomery, off the Kent coast that still holds much of her cargo of ammunition; the three masts are still visible above the waves, with the forward mast tilted to show how the ship broke its back when it originally grounded on a sandbank. We moored at the mile-and-a — quarter long Southend Pier both Ways, just a matter of days before it was so sadly badly damaged by fire yet again, though thankfully it is to be rebuilt. The ships-bridge style Lifeboats building on the Pier is particularly impressive. The anti-aircraft forts themselves at Red Sands and, further out into the estuary, at Shivering Sands have survived remarkably well and each feature(d) seven individual steel towers, standing on tubular legs on the seabed, previously linked by (now demolished) suspended walkways. Towers had dedicated uses, including ones mounting 3.7-inch AA guns and Bofors guns. A trust has been formed to restore the Red Sands Forts, with one tower restored to represent its wartime AA role, and another to show its 1960s use as a pirate radio station; another is planned for University use to extract hydrogen from sea water! The Shivering Sands fort is nowadays backed by a very large wind farm; one of its towers collapsed many years ago when hit by a passing ship.
When you feel the need to defrost after all that time taking in the sights on deck, the Waverley has spacious below-decks lounges, bars and a restaurant. The Waverley was built as the last Clyde steamer for the London and North Eastern Railway, replacing a vessel of the same name sunk off Dunkirk in May 1940. She was launched on the Clyde on 2 October 1946, with her maiden voyage on 16 June 1947. Weighing 693 tons gross, she is 240 feet long, twin-funnelled, with a current passenger capacity of 925. Steam powered, she has been oil fired since 1957, and reached 18.5 knots on trials, with a normal service speed of 14.5 knots, which she reaches quickly and smoothly. Nationalisation of the railways in 1948 was followed by the Waverley’s transfer to the British Transport Commissions’ Caledonian Steam Packet Co Ltd subsidiary in1951, with her traditional summer cruises continuing up Loch Goil and Loch Long. By 1972 she was the sole surviving Clyde Paddler, and was withdrawn in September 1973. She was sold (for one pound!) to the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society, a registered charity, in 1974, and has been maintained in fully seaworthy condition since May 1975, surviving grounding on Gantocks Rock off Dunoon in 1977. Nowadays she is operated for the PSPS by Waverley Excursions Ltd. Maintenance is extensive and expensive, including reboilering in 1980-81 and an annual dry-docking; when you visit the engine room to watch the 2100hp triple-expansion steam engine in action, there are usually gunmetal bearings and the like for sale. In 1999-2000, a £2.7 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund funded a very extensive rebuild, including replating of the hull, renovation of the engine, new boilers, new paddleboxes and sponsons, new funnels and new deck shelter. Hopefully this should make her fit for many more seasons of sailing. The PSPS also operate the rather smaller Paddler, the 110-feet long 1924-built PS Kingswear Castle on the River Medway, in contrast to its original home on the River Dart in Devon. Also operated is the 1949-built motor cruise ship MV Balmoral, based in Bristol. For details, see www.psps.freeserve.co.uk. Worth the trip-try her out for yourselves next year!
THE LONDON ACADEMY (NORTH), EDGWARE
From the latest Greater London Archaeology Quarterly Review, courtesy of Peter Pickering; Site Name: THE LONDON ACADEMY (NORTH), EDGWARE, reported July 2005 Arch Org: AOC Archaeology (London) Report Type: Evaluation Site Code: LAK05 Grid Ref: 518437192926 Summary: The evaluation consisted of 22 trenches. The western edge of the development area revealed a good level of survival of archaeological remains with a series of ditches and several isolated pits and postholes recorded in trenches 1, 2, 4, 6 & 7. These features all truncated a possible Roman occupation layer and much of the material recovered from the ditches and pits was dated to the Roman period. The alignment of the linear features, running north to south, and therefore parallel with the known Roman road, and east west at 90 degrees to the road, support the idea that these features formed part of a Roman roadside settlement. Towards the east of the development area very few archaeological remains were observed. These were limited to a shallow undated pits and ditch in trenches 12 and 19 respectively. The remainder of the trenches contained only ill-defined variations in the natural clay. Sections were excavated through these features to confirm that they were of natural origin.
OTHER SOCIETIES’ LECTURES & EVENTS
Normal compiler Eric Morgan has had an accident and is recovering; Get Well Soon, Eric!
Wednesday 8 February 7.45 pm Union Church Hall, Corner of Ferme Park Rd/Weston Park, N8 Hornsey Historical Society Lecture; Your Victorian Ancestors; Facts You May Not Know; George Smith. Non-Members £1.00.
Thursday 9 February 8pm Drawing Room, Avenue House East End Rd, Finchley-Finchley Society Lecture — ‘How to Research your favourite spot in Finchley’ Dr 011ie Natelson.
Monday 13 February 3pm Church House, Wood St, Chipping Barnet Barnet and District Local History Society ‘Wars of The Roses-The Two Kings’ by Alan Smith.
Wednesday 15 February 8pm Scout House, High Road, Willesden Green Willesden Local History Society Lecture ‘Queen’s Park Rangers’ — Richard Porter.
Friday 17 February 6.30 for 7 Annual General Meeting, followed by lecture, Syon; Uncovering Medieval England’s Wealthiest Nunnery City Of London Archaeological Society-St Olave’s Hall, Mark Lane, London EC2. Nearest Tube Tower Hill.
Monday 20 February 8pm Church End Library, Finchley Friends of Barnet Borough Libraries Talk – ‘The North London Hospice’ by Pauleen Treen.
Thursday 23 February 2.30pm, Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Rd, Finchley N3 Finchley Society lecture; ‘Blitz! London During World War 2 Brenda Cole
Saturday 25 March 11-5 43rd Annual Conference of London Archaeologists — the LAMAS CONFERENCE Museum of London Lecture Theatre. 11 am — 5.30pm Afternoon coffee available. Stands and displays, hopefully including HADAS, in attendance. Other details not available at time of writing. Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2