Hendon and District Archaeological Society Lecture Programme 2008/09
Tuesday 14th October 2008 Lorna Richardson Community archaeology in Greater London. Outreach work and excavations at Prescot Street
Tuesday 11th November 2008 Hugh Davies: Bletchley Park: Enigma – how cracking the enemy codes led to the world’s first computer.
Tuesday 13th January 2009 Nicole Douek: An exploration of the Western Desert of Egypt
Tuesday 10th February 2009 Tony Earle: The building of the Underground
Tuesday 10th March 2009: TO BE ARRANGED
Tuesday 14th April 2009: TO BE ARRANGED
Tuesday 12th May 2009: TO BE ARRANGED
Lectures start at 8.00 pm in the Drawing Room, Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley N3 3QE. Buses 82, 143, 326 & 460 pass close by, whilst Finchley Central station (Northern Line) is five to ten minutes walk.
HADAS long weekend in Beverley – 27th to 31st August 2008
As a result of a couple of cancellations due to medical reasons, there are now two places available on the above trip. If you would like to join your fellow HADAS members on this trip please apply to the Chairman (Don Cooper) or the Treasurer (Jim Nelhams) at the addresses below.
Preliminary report on the Excavation at Hendon School from June 16th to June 27th 2008 Don Cooper
Site code HDS06 Grid references: TQ23610, 89011 Height above sea level approx. 62m (as per GPS & estimation)
1.Introduction This is the preliminary report of the third season of excavations at Hendon School. The reports of the previous two seasons are available on request as is the original project design. The reports have also been published in the Hendon and District Archaeology Society’s (HADAS) newsletters and entries have been made in the Sites and Monuments Record (SMR). The main objectives of the excavation, as brought forward from the original project design, remain the same namely: to give pupils of year 8 and 9 at Hendon School the opportunity to experience practical archaeology and, at the same time, to see if there are any trace of the gardens and boundaries of John Norden’s Hendon House estate. The history of Hendon House and its site, as far as is currently known, is available at www.hadas.org.uk/wiki/index.php/Hendon_House . An earlier map superimposed on an image from Google earth shows the location of the site (see Appendix D). One further objective in this season was to establish whether or not there were the remains of air-raid shelters under the north-west mound on the playing field. The excavation was carried by members of HADAS and students from the University of London’s Institute of Archaeology (UCL/IoA). It was organised by Sarah Dhanjal, the widening participation officer of UCL/IoA, who also produced an approved risk assessment document. Volunteer pupils were offered the chance, with permission from their parents, to take part in the excavation and Sarah gave them a number of classroom lessons on what to expect as well as an appropriate Health and Safety talk. Don Cooper, chairman of HADAS led the excavation.
2.Summary The excavation was a considerable success. The first objective of giving the pupils practical experience of archaeology was achieved helped undoubtedly by fine weather, lots of interesting “finds” and great support from the school. A total of thirty-six pupils (see appendix B) took part supported by three students from UCL/IoA plus Sarah Dhanjal and four HADAS members (see acknowledgements below). The school was ably represented by Jill Hickman, a PE teacher and the headmaster, Kevin McKellar, took a keen interest. The second objective of trying to finds traces of John Norden’s garden boundary may also have been achieved as imbedded in the natural clay were the remains of two stakes which may well define a northern boundary of the garden. There were no health and safety issues. The result of test pitting and survey indicated that the air raid shelters were not under the mound. The mound itself had the remains of a clinker high-jump fantail and underneath that demolition rubble. Further investigation of that area was not deemed necessary.
3.Detail As in previous years, where to place the trench was heavily constrained by the fact that the playing field is laid out as a sports field and with sports day approaching… However, as the boundary wall of the old garden was thought to be close to the edge of the northern boundary of the playing field, it was decided to place the trench there (see Appendix A). After a resistivity survey of that area, a 6m x 2m trench was established. The Modus operandi was somewhat different from the previous seasons. Excavating started about 0900 and the first group of pupils arrived at 11.00 for a two and a quarter hour session, then with a short break for lunch, the second group of the day arrived at 13.30 and finished at 15.45. The trench was then worked in until about 16.30. The consequence of this method was that there was little time for anything other than preparing the trench for the pupils plus a small amount of actual excavation despite the fact that the dig was over two weeks rather than one. It was also found in practice that the interval between pupil sessions was too short as there was insufficient time to have lunch, prepare the trench and tools for the next group of pupils as well as answer questions posed by teachers and non-participating pupils in their lunch break. The times were changed slightly to cater for this towards the end of the second week. The pupil sessions involved a short health and safety presentation to remind and supplement the classroom talk. They were then encouraged to get into the trench and to trowel an area under supervision from the archaeologists. The amount of individual time in the trench varied based on the pupils preference. There then followed a session of finds washing and marking. Other activities included surveying using a dumpy level and trying their hand at metal detecting. Over the two weeks each of the pupils had the opportunity to take part in two full sessions.
4.What did we find? The archaeology benefited from having two weeks (as opposed to the one week we had in previous seasons) as well as more volunteers and good weather. The natural London clay was reached and there was no evidence of prehistoric activity. There were the remains of two wooden stakes in the London clay (see appendix C) which prompted the speculation that they were the remains of a fence marking to boundary of the estate as they almost were, with an eye of faith, linked by a shallow depression/ditch in the clay. The London clay was overlain by a layer of clayey soil, which appeared not to be particularly disturbed. It contained one abraded sherd of Roman mortaria and a number of sherds of Saxon/early medieval pot (a detailed pottery report will be produced in due course). However the main types of pot sherds produced from this layer can be securely dated to between 1550 and 1700, probably to around 1650 judging by the types of pottery that were not represented. Almost all the sherds were small and somewhat abraded, indicating perhaps that they had been thrown out into the garden with domestic rubbish. This layer was in turn overlain by another layer of clayey soil which judging by the artefacts in it was either much disturbed or re-deposited from elsewhere. On balance it was probably disturbed because of the similarity of pot sherds at this level compared with the undisturbed layer. It yielded the usual collection of objects: coins including a 1905 penny, a postman’s uniform button from the 1920, belt buckles, early 20th century light fittings, claypipe stems and bowls, one part bowl with initials WT on the spur, as well as pot sherds, glass, and bricks and tiles The final layer of top soil and turves was “full” of the detritus of the playing field over many years. Coins, pen tops, crisp packets and plastic “bits” littered this layer. While we were on site the headmaster initiated a strategy to minimize the amount of litter left on the field by pupils during their breaks. It was fascinating to see that not much has changed over many years –a crisp packet we found in the upper layers of the trench had a “use by” date of 1984!! The amount of plastic wrappers found filled a large finds bag and this from a 6m x 2m trench!
5.Contribution to research questions The research questions posed by the project design brief can be answered as follows:
a.Is there any residual evidence of prehistoric activity? There was no evidence of prehistoric activity.
b.Considering the proximity to various Roman roads, is there evidence of Roman activity? There is at least one sherd from a Roman Mortaria
c.Excavations in the area have uncovered considerable Anglo-Saxon material, is there any evidence of similar remains here? There are a number of sherds that are probably Anglo-Saxon, we will not for certain in the detailed pottery analysis has been completed.
d.Is there any evidence of activity in the area between its mention in Domesday and the construction of the house? A number of early medieval pot sherds were recovered, which, if not re-deposited from elsewhere, would indicate activity locally during that period. The evidence from the Church Terrace site (CT73) and history of St Mary’s Church would support the proposition.
e.What evidence remains for the different phases of rebuilding of the house up to the demolition in 1909? Apart from the two wooden spikes from the natural London clay layer and the slight depression between them, there was no evidence of any previous structural activity. The sherds of tile and brick were insufficient to warrant claiming old buildings in the immediate area.
6.Results The main objective of the project was to provide training and experience of practical archaeology for the pupils of Hendon 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. As far as the archaeology is concerned, this small trench in the garden area of the old Hendon House is unlikely to add much to our knowledge of the history of the area. Although further processing of the finds, as well as more ferreting at the archives may fill in some of the gaps in the history of John Norden’s Hendon House and Hendon School.
7.Acknowledgements Thanks are due to a whole range of people from staff at the school especially Jill Hickman, to UCL students Michelle de Gruchy and Emily Esche, to HADAS members Andrew Coulson, Angela Holmes, Jim Nelhams, and Vicki Baldwin not forgetting all the students who took part. Thanks also to Jacqui Pearce for agreeing to review the pot sherds found. Sarah Dhanjal, UCL Institute of Archaeology’s widening participation officer and Gabe Moshenska, a PhD student at UCL Institute of Archaeology, made it all possible. Thanks all Don Cooper
HADAS Outing to West Sussex 5th July 2008
Butser Ancient Farm Jean Bayne
The ghost of Peter Reynolds walked beside us on our recent visit to the Ancient Farm. His fierce dedication to Butser and its educational ideals live on ,albeit in less colourful and more orthodox ways! I remember our last visit when he entertained us with his charismatic, erudite approach. Moreover, I have happy memories of a week spent at Butser in the mid nineties on an archaeological course. We made bronze, daubed wattle, counted spelt wheat, sampled soil , experimented with woad ,created pots and listened to lectures on all aspects of the farm. It was a fantastic experience!
Set up in 1972, a little way from its present site, the aim of the Ancient Farm is to investigate issues arising from archaeological excavations by using experimental techniques. In the main, it spans the years from 500 BC to 500 AD, representing five strands of research: buildings and their construction; agriculture ,both arable and stock; ancient technology, using raw materials; the observation of the process of form, reaction and decay; and lastly, the description and demonstration of the function and purpose of objects and constructs. The layout of Butser reflects these diverse interests and includes ancient sheep and goats, old types of wheat, both Spelt and Emmer, earthworks, a garden , a geophysical research area ,a weather station and a technology area which includes metal working and a pottery. All are subject to ongoing experimentation and /or study.
But the dominating feature of the farm is the buildings. Steve Dyer, the present director, focussed mostly on these in his talk to us. He is clearly passionate about their achievements and concerned to follow the precepts laid down by Peter Reynolds.
All the constructions are based on post hole evidence from somewhere in Britain and we started off in the largest one, which, with a fire in the middle, smoky and dark, evoked the atmosphere of the Iron Age! This had been built from scratch in 2006 after a squall had damaged the former one and pushed it sideways. The roof structure had had problems too so it was dismantled and replaced in its entirety. They began by researching existing information among the 100 or so roundhouses known to have been built in Britain in the Iron Age. Such large structures are uncommon and were more likely to have been built in the early Iron Age and used for community purposes rather than as domestic housing. However, Butser needed an adequate space for students on educational visits. Steve explained in some detail the order in which they set about building, starting with the roof and the inside posts and beams, using an A frame and pulley. Horizontal rings of timber took the weight of the roof which was also supported by rafters,tied together with hazel rods. Outer posts and a wattled outer wall were added. Thatching and daubing were the last activities. The apex of the roof had a Star of David as part of the cross bracing. (They had deliberately avoided a pentagon shape as this had pagan connections and could have led to a myriad of interesting complications!) They did experiment, however, with a different kind of floor, laying down rammed chalk to see how it would stand up to wear and tear in the long run. It took eleven months for a team of three to construct this large roundhouse.
We also went inside ‘the pink house’, a smaller structure based on excavations in Mold, North Wales. This was furnished to show how it might have been used as a domestic dwelling ,with the loom near the door, and therefore, the light, and a food preparation centre next to it. In the darker areas, there were beds and storage chests. One of the features of this construction was the stepped post holes, deeper on the inside and with an elongated shape rather than a round one. Steve pointed out that the dwellings had no hole in the roof. This would have acted as a flue and been dangerous. In fact, a hood of smoke had its uses ; it killed off bugs ,so discouraging birds from dismantling the thatch and also helped to preserve food by ‘smoking’ it. Steve commented that it was surprisingly warm in cold weather. Other smaller, simpler houses were also domestic dwellings, based on excavations at Glastonbury.
We completed our tour of the buildings by visiting the newest project, the Roman Villa. This was based on one found at Sparsholt near Winchester, late second or early third century AD, and it is constructed using authentic materials. The early plans had to be modified as money was offered by the Discovery Channel , who wished to record the building of the villa but was more interested in media potential than painstaking ,time consuming research. However, Roman building methods were employed, using flint nodules, lime mortar and wattle and daub. In the winter, the lime mortar would not set, which raises the question of how the Romans coped. Perhaps they only built in the warmer months. It was also difficult to know how far the masonry section of the wall went up . Because of the weight, it is likely that any upper storey was wattle and daub instead. And this was used here, above 50 cms. There were several rooms within the villa, one of which included a hypocaust under it. How the rooms were used in the original villa is a matter of conjecture but they have been decorated in accordance with examples from Britain and the Continent. There was also an enclosed veranda running across the front of the villa. Usually ,these were open but because of the climate in Britain, it was felt that they were probably turned into corridors instead. The team at Butser were unable to complete two storeys or use their preferred roofing materials because local planning permission was denied. It seems that this attractive rural area is to become a national park in the future and planning restrictions are already in place.
It was a delightful visit, amid fitful sunshine and chilly breezes. Informative, unique, serious in purpose and with great attention to detail in all its undertakings, the Ancient Farm is thriving under the care and dedication of its present director.
I would also like to take this opportunity of thanking June and Stewart for organising our trip so well
Fishbourne Roman Palace Tessa Smith
THE MUSEUM GALLERY displays a variety of Roman objects found during excavations on the site. By far the smallest is an intaglio of a racehorse, elegant and minute, carved onto onyx, which has to be viewed through a magnifying glass. How anyone could work on such a small scale is beyond belief. `Perhaps the racehorse would have worn iron hippo sandals, (removable horseshoes) like those displayed.
The exhibition of glassware includes square sided glass bottles with handles, blown in a mould. This type of bottle must have been the inspiration for the exact copy we have from Brockley Hill made in clay. (see the Moxom Collection at Church Farm Hendon). Other examples of glass include fragments of window glass buckled by the heat of the fire (270/280) as well as undamaged flat glass pieces. Examples of stone imported from around the Roman world to build and decorate the palace include marble from the Italian quarries at Carrera, exotic stone from Turkey, quartz and crinoidal limestone as well as Purbeck marble – all brought in through Chichester Harbour. A life size reproduction of a room in the palace AD 100, is based on archaeological excavation materials from Fishbourne. As well as wall paintings and mosaic floor the room includes a couch, a rectangular table, a cabinet, amphorae and a collection of pottery.
I enjoyed THE GARDEN AREA enormously because it was here that you had to get yourself orientated to understand exactly where visitors to the palace would have entered, If you were coming from the road from the harbour, through the east wing entrance, you would have entered the courtyard garden area. A long, wide walkway, edged with crenulated hedges led straight ahead towards the audience chamber in the west wing, which would have had a flight of wide steps leading up to it. On each side of this walkway would have been a large rectangular courtyard space now grassed over, Excavations show that water works and fountains edged the whole garden area, (parts of a marble basin from the garden is on show in the museum). Of course only half of the original garden is on view, the other half is now under adjacent housing. The rooms with the splendid mosaics would have looked out onto this tranquil area.
Adjacent to this area is a lovely little Roman garden, full of herbs, fruit, flowers and plants with medicinal value. Figs and olives, grape vines and apples mixed with gigantic globe artichoke. Do you suffer from fainting spells? Try penny royal. Flatulence or colic? = Lovage is the answer. Hiccups? = Chervil. To treat hemlock poisoning? Very useful in Roman times. = Absinthium. To bleach linen? = Soapwort of course. In a nearby potting shed a Roman gardener was continually complaining that the weeds grow quicker here than in Rome, and that all the hedging had to be cut at least twice a year.
So ended a wonderful day in West Sussex, or so we thought.
We were travelling home, quite all right When we suddenly got such a fright Oh! What a crash Two cars in a smash We thought that we’d be there all night.
But, miraculously not one person was hurt, although one car was an absolute write off, we had a grand-stand view of the road haulier at work.
Our thanks to June and Stuart for a lovely day out.
Other Societies Events Eric Morgan
Sunday 3rd August, 2.30pm: Enfield Society, Heritage Walk: Southgate. Start at the station following along the High Street and other streets in the area. Guides will cover all the interesting buildings and tell the history. It is hoped that visits to Christ Church anf the Beaument Home can be made. The walk finishes near Broomfield Park.
Sunday 3rd August, 2.30pm: Heath and Hampstead Society, The Heath Extension. Meet at the cattle trough in Spaniards Road near The Spaniards Inn. Walk led by Tony Ghilchik. Donation £2. Lasts 2 hours.
Sunday 3rd August, 3-5pm: Finchley Society, Avenue House, East End Road. The Bothy Garden open day.
Friday 8th August, 10.30pm: Camden History Society, Burgh House, New End Square NW3: Alleys and Lanes in Hampstead. Walk led by Marilyn Greene.
Sunday 10th August, 2.30pm: Hornsey Historical Society, Old School House, 136 Tottenham Lane (cnr. Rokesly Ave.), Crouch End N8: Walk round Crouch End, full of interesting history, old villas and houses. Lasts 2hrs. Cost £2.
Monday 11th August, 2.30pm: Camden History Society. Meet outside entrance to Kings Cross underground, North side of Euston Road: Streets of St. Pancras. Walk led by Steve Denford.
Tuesday 12th August, 2-3pm: Harrow Museum, Headstone Manor, Pinner View, North Harrow: A Concise History of Whitefriars Glass. Talk by Mike Beech. Cost £3.
Tuesday 12th August, 7.30pm: Amateur Geological Society, The Parlour, St. Margaret’s Church, Victoria Avenue, N3 (off Hendon Lane): Evening of talks given by members including Geology in South Africa by Sue Jacobs; Finchley W.E.A. Geology Class: some favourite places by Joe Sellars, and a display of field trip photos by John Wong.
Wednesday 13th August, 10.15am: Enfield Society. Meet outside Sainsburys in New Barnet for about 2.5hr linear walk via Hadley Woods, Monken Hadley and Hadley Green ending at High Barnet. Led by Ken Cooper.
Friday 15th August, 7pm: COLAS: From Jack the Ripper to St. George: Guided walk led by Robert Stephenson and tour of St. George’s Lutheran Church. Meet Whitechapel Station 7pm for walk; tour St. George’s, Alie Street, E1 7.45pm.
Saturday 16th August & Sunday 17th August, 12-6pm: Friern Barnet Summer Show, Friary Park, Friern Barnet Lane, N12. Friern Barnet & District Local History Society will have a stand there. Also an Art Exhibition by Barnet Borough Arts Council whose stand has HADAS info. and many other stalls including NW London RSPB.
Sunday 17th August, 11am: A Meander Through Monken Hadley. Meet outside The Spires, High Street, Barnet. Historical walk through beautiful, unspoilt Georgian Hadley. Led by Paul Baker. Cost £6.
Tuesday 26th August, 2-3pm: Harrow Museum, Headstone Manor, Pinner View, North Harrow: The History and Work of Kew Gardens. Talk by Jim Keesing. Cost £3.
Saturday 30th August, 7.30pm: Things That Go Bump in High Barnet: Meet at High Barnet tube, top of Meadway. Led by Paul Baker, cost £6. A ghostly, ghoulish walk through High Barnet and Monken Hadley.
Excavations at Copped Hall, Epping with WEAG, August 2008 From Monday to Friday, weeks beginning 11th & 18th August. Continued excavation of an Elizabethan Great House and its Medieval predecessors. This year the dig will be confined to people who have already learned the basic techniques of archaeological excavation and recording. No formal training sessions are planned but participants will be working under supervision by professional archaeologists. Costs £100 week which includes lunch and tea/coffee. All tools except a digging trowel are provided. Further information and application forms are available from Mrs. Pauline Dalton, Roseleigh, Epping Road, Epping, Essex CM16 5HW, tel. 01992813725, email: email@example.com or visit www.coppedhalltrust.org.uk (HADAS have helped WEAG here with resistivity and surveying site). This year the Copped Hall Trust wish to look closely at more of the masonry, and answer questions about the different phases of building and rebuilding.