Lecture Season Starts
Just a reminder that the 2007/8 lecture season starts on Tuesday 9th October with the talk by Denis Smith on Thomas Telford (1757 — 1834). This was postponed from last season.
Report of the excavation at St Mary’s (C of E) High School, Downage, Hendon. NW4 lAB By Don Cooper
Grid reference: 23260, 89609 Site code MSDO7 Introduction
Following an approach by St Mary’s (C of E) High School in Hendon to University College London’s (UCL) widening participation officer, Sarah Dhangal, it was agreed that students from UCL’s Institute of Archaeology (IoA) supported by members of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society (HADAS) would carry-out an archaeological intervention in the school grounds. The main objectives, as set out by Gabe Moshenska in the project design were, as follows: • to provide an experience of practical archaeology for year eight and nine pupils at St Mary’s. • to investigate the possibility of archaeological remains on the school grounds. Choosing an area to investigate proved difficult as much of the schools grounds are either concreted or used as car parks etc. An area in front of the secondary school, on the corner of Parson Street and Downage by the side of Church Walk was chosen. Although a long way from the presumed Saxon centre of Hendon around St Mary’s church, it was hoped that its proximity to Church Walk would yield some archaeology for the pupils. A resistivity survey was carried out and produced an interesting, but difficult to interpret, grid. The risk assessment report was prepared by Sarah Dhangal. The excavation took place in the week commencing 16th June 2007.
The UCL/HADAS team opened a 4m x 2m trench on the north-eastern edge of the large black area on the resistivity grid. It was hoped to investigate what the black area consisted of before perhaps excavating it. After de-turfing and initial trowelling back, a section of what seemed like the concrete edging of a path was revealed in the north-western end of the trench (see photo –Editor note: Image not yet available!!). The trench was extended to the west to examine this feature. It revealed a cinder base. The concrete edge was then traced using spikes and a small test pit was dug at the western extreme, which showed the opposite side of the concrete edging. A large”structure” was revealed. With a long-forgotten memory of a long serving member of staff and the technical knowledge of one the HADAS diggers a former athlete, it was finally established that the area was the site of a high jump area. This was fantailed shaped and had a cinder base. It had been provided when the Secondary school buildings were constructed in the 1950s.This accounted for the resistivity “large black area”. With that issue solved the original trench was mattocked (by the excavators) and trowelled (by the pupils) in successive spits to a depth of about 56cm. By the time this depth was reached, time was running out. Two sonciages were sunk in the trench (see photo) a further 30cm. At this point London Clay was reached, which is the geological “natural” in the area.
What we found
The contents of the trench consisted of much disturbed and re-deposited soil with a lot of building debris (brick & tile fragments), domestic rubbish (electrical fittings, etc.), window and bottle glass & pottery sherds. Whilst it gave the pupils “things” to “find”, from an archaeological point of view there was little of interest. Almost all the finds were disposed of with only a small sample being kept to record the excavation.
What does it mean?
It is likely that the ground to the east of the high jump fantail was made up to make it level as there was a pronounced slope towards the road. Building and domestic debris was used and this is what we found. There is unlikely to be any archaeology in that corner of the school grounds.
The main objective of the project was to provide training and practical experience of archaeology for the students of St Mary’s School. The interest and enthusiasm shown by the pupils that took part in the excavation, the number of pupils and teachers who came to view it during their leisure time as well as the many well-formed questions, made this made this excavation a considerable success. From the point of view of the archaeology, all that can be said is that the artefacts found were typical of the debris that results from buildings being constructed. Whether from nearby sites or brought in from elsewhere we will never know. The physical archive will be housed at St Mary’s School. There is also a photo library of the excavation, largely compiled by Sarah Dhangal. The SMR will updated under the site code MSD07. Copies of this report will be sent Jon Finney at the London Borough of Barnet and to Kim Stabler of English Heritage.
To maintain the enthusiasm of the school and pupils, another season of excavations should be planned. Where the excavation should take place needs more thought. Offsite on Church Farm Museum ground or in Sunning Hill Park is a possibility; however, being on the school grounds enables the teaching staff and pupils not directly involved to see what is going on.
Thanks are due to a whole range of people from staff at the school especially Michele Hussain and Paul Denchem (a school governor) , to UCL students Hannah Davis, Alex Mulhall, Andy May and James Lee, to HADAS members Andrew Coulson, Angela Holmes, Vicki Baldwin, Steve Brunning, not forgetting the students who took part. Sarah Dhangal, UCL’s widening participation officer and Gabe Moshenska UCL made it all possible.
Lecture at Kingsbury Old Church Report by Don Cooper
I’m sure that many members will remember the excellent talk that Andy Agate of UCL gave to HADAS at Avenue House in May 2006. It was subsequently written up in the July 2006 newsletter (no 424). At that time he was hoping to carry out a limited archaeological intervention on the site. In the event a team from HADAS and UCL got permission to record the site in detail and also to dig a small number of trenches on the site in the summer of 2006. On last Friday, 14th September 2007, Andy returned to the St Andrew’s Old Church to give a talk to the Wembley History Society and HADAS to update us all on his work on the site. (Andy is now living in Newcastle from where he is studying for his PhD in archaeology). He started his well-attended lecture by updating us on the outcome of his research on the old church, its long history, its prominent position in the landscape, how it fitted in with the highways and settlements around it. He then went on to describe the excavation carried out last summer. St Andrew’s Old Church is a difficult place to excavate — the church is surrounded by a tightly packed cemetery with much disturbed ground. Six small trenches were dug and yielded little additional evidence of the churches history. However, one trench dug to reveal the foundations of the church provided interesting dating evidence. Up to now it has generally been held that the church was of Saxon origins. The six un-abraded sherds of Early Medieval London Flinty ware found stratified in the foundations of the church can be securely dated to soon after the conquest of 1066AD. It suggests therefore that the flint/stone church dates to about 1100 which would fit in with the entry in the Domesday book. The Roman bricks and tile including the five hypocaust tiles, that are in the fabric of the church, are still a mystery. Where did they come from? Had they just been lying around for 500 years? We will probably never know! It is quite possible that the flint/stone church replaced an earlier wooden structure as may well be the case with other alleged Saxon churches in our area. What happens next? Andy has now finished his researches on the church. Father John, the priest-in-charge of the New St. Andrews Church, is hoping that a use can be found for the old now deconsecrated church and that the graveyard “inhabitants” can be properly recorded and published and the cemetery kept in good condition so that the site can become an attraction both for genealogists and local people. Our thanks are due to Andy for a fascinating lecture especially as he had come from such a long way.
Other Societies’ Events Compiled by Eric Morgan
Thursday 4th October, 8pm: Pinner Local History Society, Village Hall, Chapel Lane. Oliver Cromwell by Dr David Smith. Visitors £2.
Monday 8th October, 3pm: Barnet & District Local History Society Church House, Wood Street (opposite Museum). Next stop London, the Holyhead and Great North Road. Talk by Dennis Bird.
Wednesday 10th October, 8pm: Mill Hill Historical Society Harwood Hall, Union Church, The Broadway NW7. A History of the Welsh Harp. Talk by Yasmine Webb — Barnet Archivist
Wednesday 10th October, Spm HOnsey Historical Society Union Church, corner of Ferme Park Road and Weston Park, The Men who made millions — The story of the North London Pot Makers. Talk by Ken Barker. Refreshments 7:45. £1.
Thursday llth October, 6:30pm: LAMAS Terrace Room, Museum of London. Gardens and Archaeology at Hampton Court. By Todd Lanstaffe-Gowan
Saturday 13th October, 11 am to lpm: King Harold Day Waltham Abbey Gardens. The History of Waltham Abbey, King Harold, Arts and Crafts, Lots of Stalls.
Saturday 13th October, 2pm: Guided Walk by Paul Baker, Meet outside East Barnet Library, Broolchill Road. Historical walk through Ancient and Modern East Barnet. £6.
Saturday 13th October, and Sunday 14th October at St Paul’s Church, The Ridgeway,Mill Hill, NW7
BLACK HISTORY MONTH CELEBRATIONS
Saturday – 10:30 — 4:30 >> Exhibition to include Slavery from the 18th Century to the present day Wilberforce and his local connections St Paul’s Church Restoration
4:30: Talk by Kevin Belmonte— Wilberforce: Friend of Humanity and his Enduring Influence Concert by St Ignateous Caribbean Choir
Sunday — 10:30 — 4:30>> Exhibitions as Saturday plus Local Village and Graveyard Historic Trails
Monday 15th October, 8:15pm; Ruislip, Northwood and Eastcote History Society St Martin’s Church Hall, Eastcote Road, Ruislip. History of Building and Restoration of Westminster Abbey. Talk by Geoff Roberts. Visitors £2.
Wednesday 17th October, 7:30pm: Willesden Local History Society Scout House, High Road, NW10 — corner of Strode Road. The Genealogists Picture Book — Heraldic Clues to Family History. Talk by Dr Andre Gray, Middlesex Heraldry Society. (Will include references to local Willesden families – e.g Nicols)
Wednesday 17th October, 8:00pm: Islington Archaeology and History Society Islington Town Hall, Upper Street, Ni. Farthing a Bundle Lady of Bar — extraordinary story of Clara Grant, Headmistress and Founder in 1907 of Fern Street Settlement. Talk by Rev. Michael Peet.
Thursday 18th October, 7:30pm: Camden History Society Crowndale Centre, Eversholt Street, NWI. The Greville Estate: The History of a Kilburn Neighbourhood. Talk by Dick Weindling & Marianne Collens.
Friday 19th October, 7pm: COLAS St Olave’s Parish Hall, Mark Lane, EC3. Recent Excavations at Bermondsey Square. Talk by Alastair Douglas (Preconstruct Archaeology). Visitors £2. Refreshments afterwards.
Friday 19th October, 8pm: Enfield Archaeology Society Jubilee Hall, Parsonage Lane, Enfield. The Vickers Ship Model Experimentation Tank. Talk by Tim Crichton
Friday 19th October, 7:30pm: Wembley History Society St Andrew’s Church Hall, Church Lane, Kingsbury, NW9. Metropolitan Electric Locomotives and the people associated with them. Talk by Terry Lomas — with musical additions. Visitors 1. Refreshments.
Saturday 20th October, 10:30 — 3:30pm: LAARC Mortimer Wheeler House, Eagle Wharf Road, Ni. Murders at the Archive. Victims, Weapons and Murder Scenes- discover all of the murderous objects stored at the LAARC.
Saturday 20th October, 2:00 — 3:30pm: Meet at Thornhill Bridge Community Gardens, Caledonian Road (Nr Carnegie Street), Ni. Leisurely stroll led by Jan Brott, Waterways Heritage Adviser. Find out more about the history of the canal. Finishes in Camden. Booking essential — 020 7527 1835 or email to Dominique.allenAislington.gov.uk – website www.islington.gov.uk
Wednesday 24″ October, 8pm: Friern Barnet and District Local History Society St John’s Church Hall, Friern Barnet Lane, N20. Almshouses Talk by Peter Willcocks (Barnet & District LHS) Refreshments 7:45. £2.
Thursday 25th October, 8pm: Finchley Society Drawing Room, Avenue House. Turn again, Whittington. Talk by Brenda Cole. £2
Saturday 27th October, 10:00am — 4:00pm: Edmonton Hundred Historical Society Jubilee Hall, Parsonage Lane, Enfield Day conference — Local Industries, Firms, and their Processes. Contact Pat Keeble, 15 Onslow Gardens, N21 I DY (020 8360 3873)
Tuesday 30th October, 10:30 am: The Enfield Society Jubilee Hall, Parsonage Lane, Enfield. Octavio Hill, Founder of the National Trust. Talk by Pam Wright