newsletter-460-july-2009 – HADAS Newsletter Archive

HADAS DIARY: Forthcoming Events

Wednesday 8th July: Outing to Syon Park

At the AGM last month our president, Harvey Sheldon, praised the cafeteria at Syon Park and reminded members of how much else there is to see there, quite apart from the interesting dig and the last few days of an exhibition based on the Time Team dig there. Application forms were sent out some time ago, but you may still be able to get a place: contact Jim Nelhams (see his details on the back page).

Sunday 26th July: Outing to Broughton Castle, Swalcliffe Village etc:

*BREAKING NEWS* from Stewart Wild:

*Our outing on Sunday 26 July will visit a dig in progress*

Good news for all those joining us on 26 July for our visit to Broughton Castle, near Banbury. On the way home, we have been able to arrange a guided tour at a dig in progress. In fields near Abingdon, Oxford

University’s School of Archaeology has been excavating a complex site each summer since 2001.

The site is an Iron Age settlement which is overlain by a Romano-British temple complex. The temple has a large temenos area defined by a stone wall with various public buildings outside it. One of these is a large
circular structure whose function is unclear at the moment but it was probably some form of theatre/amphi-theatre associated with religious activities and the nearby temple.

We hope you will be able to join us for our first outing on a Sunday. Booking forms were distributed last month; if you need a copy please contact:

June Porges ( 020 8346 5078
Stewart Wild ( 020 8346 4166

Wednesday 26th August to Sunday 30th August inclusive –

HADAS long weekend in Hereford – not long to go!!! from Jim Nelhams

The arrangements for our trip to Hereford have nearly been finalised – apart from the weather. The balance of the cost (£290 per person sharing a room or £330 for those in single rooms) is due by the 18th August 2009, but should anybody like to pay an instalment in July and one in August they are welcome to do so. Please send your payments to Jim Nelhams (address at back of newsletter). A little booklet of the trip and any instructions will be sent to you as soon as it is available.

A few places may still be available. We normally operate a waiting list as well, because so often someone has to drop out, so please contact Jim if you are interested but have not yet signed up.

Ann Kahn

Each of our last three newsletters carried obituaries of long-standing members, and we were unable to include an appreciation of Ann Kahn as soon as we would have wished. Peter Pickering, who was among the HADAS members who were able to attend her funeral, has written the following for us:

Ann died on 21st April at the age of 85, immediately after completing our May newsletter, of which she was editor; this bald fact demonstrates the determination which was characteristic of her. She was a librarian by profession; she worked in Hendon public library in 1951, but her career was in the Civil Service, where she became Chief Librarian of the Department of Health and Social Security in 1974. She had many and varied interests, including the theatre and sailing (she was a founder member of both the Society for Theatre Research and the Civil Service Sailing Association) and of course archaeology (she had dug with Mortimer Wheeler at Maiden Castle). Ann joined HADAS in 1981; she was one of our regular team of newsletter editors and came to our meetings while she was still mobile. In 1989 she was confined to a wheelchair, in which I well remember her at our Christmas dinner in the Meritage Club. This scarcely cramped her style or her enthusiasms; Denis Ross and I visited her more than once to discuss the peculiarities of AppleMac computers, and at the time of her death she was engaged on projects including a Dictionary of Body Language and a History of the Civil Service Sailing Association.

Would you like to get the Newsletter by E-mail? Mary Rawitzer

Last month’s debacle, when three people between them managed NOT to put the Broughton Castle outing application form in with the June Newsletter, and it had to be e-mailed or posted separately, has prompted a suggestion from Jeffrey Lesser that some members might be willing, as he would be, to get the Newsletter by e-mail each month. This would save postage, paper and time, and bring the HADAS Newsletter into the modern world.

The HADAS Committee has considered this idea from time to time without ever making a decision, but really no decision is needed. If YOU would like to be sent the Newsletter by e-mail, please just send a brief message to – so that I am certain we have your correct address.

Who were those three guilty people? I’m not telling on the others. But I was one of them.


Ancient Egypt and Beyond: From Nubia to the Levant (6 – 31 July 2009)

UCL has announced a programme of one-week courses taught by experts, with lavishly-illustrated lectures, gallery work in the British Museum, special-access classes in the Petrie Museum and UCL’s Institute of Archaeology, as well as social events. For further information visit:

or contact The Director, Bloomsbury Summer School, Department of History, UCL, Gower St., London WC1E 6BT. Tel: 020 7679 3622. E-mail:

UCL has also launched week-long sessions under the heading Bloomsbury Summer School in Egypt. The course, Exploring Amarna: Akhenaten’s Abandoned City, will actually be taught in Egypt, by Professor Barry Kemp, with daily visits to ancient sites. The first course, from 24th to 31st October 2009, is already full, but there may still be availability for the following one, from 30th November to 7th December 2009.

Is this the largest erratic ever found? Stewart Wild

Members will, I am sure, know what an erratic is. The word was coined in the nineteenth century to describe a rock or boulder that had ‘wandered’ from its original location, having been carried along by a glacier.

We have hundreds, if not thousands, of erratics in this country. However, on a recent visit to western Canada, I came across a remarkable discovery. South of Calgary, Alberta, in a windswept field near a town called Okatoks (which means “Big Rock” in the native Blackfoot language), lies possibly the largest erratic ever found.

Measuring approximately 41x18x9 metres (135ft long, 60ft wide and 30ft high), this colossal mass of quartzite (a kind of tough sandstone) weighs around 16,700 tons, and is over 500 million years old. It arrived in this location more than 10,000 years ago, having been transported from Mount Edith Cavell in the Jasper area, some 400kms to the northwest, not just by a glacier, but on top of a glacier, after a rockfall.

The quartzite was formed by layers of sediment deposited some 570 to 540 million years ago in a shallow sea long before the uplift of the Rocky Mountains. As time passed, the sediment was buried as layer upon layer built up thousands of feet thick. The pressure generated by the weight of the overlying sediments compacted the sand grains and cemented them into extremely hard, durable rock.

For as long as anyone can remember, this colossal piece of rock has been a local wonder and attraction. Erosion and the passage of time – the winters are fierce in this part of the world – have broken the rock into two large and many small pieces, yet have still left enough sheer faces to attract local youngsters anxious to try their skills at surreptitious and unsupported rock climbing despite its being a Provincial Historic Site.

The massive Okatoks erratic is just one of a train of similar boulders scattered across the plains from Alberta to northern Montana, having been dumped by ancient glaciers which then melted as the last Ice Age came to an end.

Pictures and further details are available on this Alberta website:

Ancient Mass Grave found on Dorset Olympic Site

Reuters recently reported the discovery of an ancient burial pit containing 45 severed skulls, that could be a mass war grave dating back to Roman times. It was found under a road being built for the 2012 Olympics.

Archaeologists, who have only just begun excavating the site, say they do not yet know who the bones might belong to. Reuters quotes David Score of Oxford Archaeology who is heading the dig: “We think that these dismembered bodies are likely to be native Iron Age Britons. The question is – how did they die and who killed them. Were they fighting amongst themselves? Were they executed by the Romans? Did they die in a battle with the Romans? The exciting scenario for us possibly is that there were skirmishes with the invading Romans and that’s how they ended up chopped up in a pit”.

The skulls and other bones were unearthed at Ridgeway Hill, on the construction site of a new major relief road to Weymouth, on the Dorset coast, which is to host sailing events for the London Olympics.

When the main Roman invasion force landed in Britain in AD 43, Claudius’s legions moved swiftly through western England to subdue fierce Celtic tribes. The grave site is close to Maiden Castle – Europe’s largest Iron Age hill fort – where local tribes are said to have staged a last stand against the Roman legions after the invasion. Some historians believe the Romans sacked the site, butchering its population including women and children, before burning it to the ground.

Few artifacts have so far been found with the bones, though pottery shards dating to the late Iron Age and early Roman period have been found scattered around the 6-metre wide pit. 45 skulls have been counted so far, together with a tangle of torsos, arms and legs. Most skulls were those of young men, supporting the theory they could have been killed in battle or executed en masse. But the archaeologists say, pending further analysis, they could also be Roman citizens or indigenous people who had died through disease or disaster.

St. Mary at Finchley Churchyard: John Cartwright Monument Vicki Baldwin

Preparatory work pre-renovations, December 2008

HADAS was asked to supply an archaeologist to be present during the dismantling of the Cartwright monu-ment in the churchyard of St. Mary at Finchley in December 2008, prior to proposed repair and renovation work following the detailed survey and recommendations for subsequent work carried out in May 2006.

The monument in question was erected in 1835 and is situated at the western edge of St. Mary’s churchyard. At present it is surrounded by green painted hoardings. It consists of a slender, 4-sided, tapering obelisk on a rectangular column resting on a wider, square plinth. This is placed on top of a concealed vault. Problems had arisen because, due to a number of factors, the leading (eastern) edge of the plinth had compromised the roof of the vault. This in turn, had caused the monument to lean to the east, with the possibility that it might fall and cause injury to anyone nearby and probably further damage the vault.

The work in December 2008 was carried out in two phases by two specialist teams. The first phase, between 10th and 13th December, consisted of carefully removing the materials at the north end used to re-seal the vault after the 2006survey. The earth covering the steps down to the entrance was cleared and the bricks sealing the doorway removed. Once this had been done it was possible to access the chamber. Clearance of the backfill exposed a steep flight of 4 brick steps leading to a low entrance. There were 3 steps each of 3 courses of brick with the top course laid endwise on their sides and the top edge chamfered. The top step consisted of a single course of side-laid, top edge chamfered brick, and the side walls were also brick. The entrance was low (approximately 1–1.25m high) with a step down into the chamber. Along the west side ran a plinth with 8 in situ coffins. Cracking and movement of the walls and roof, detailed in the 2006 report, was clearly visible.

The next stage in this phase of work consisted of the construction of a protective shell over the coffins so that any subsequent work on the surface of the vault could be undertaken without the problem of dislodged material falling into it and causing further damage. The shell consisted of 2 layers: the first, marine ply nailed to 2”x 4” struts and the second, a layer of thick insulation board. Once the shell had been constructed, the entrance was re-bricked, the steps covered and the area backfilled.

The following week a second specialist team began dismantling the monument itself. At least one panel from the base had already become detached and was in storage elsewhere. Possibly there were only 3 panels, not 4, attached to the lower part, as it appears the monument would have been visible from 3 sides only, having been positioned at the western edge of the vault area rather than in the middle of the plot. The sections of the monu-ment were mortared together, possibly evidence of an early use of Portland cement, the first patent for which was lodged in 1824. The top (obelisk) part of the monument was constructed from 2 pieces of stone joined by poured lead plugs as well as mortar. As each section was freed it was lifted by crane and positioned within the compound. The base plinth was left in situ as it was judged that moving it could cause further damage to the underlying brickwork of the vault roof. Once the monument had been dismantled, each section was protected by layers of hessian and bubblewrap until further work can take place. The vault and monument remain behind the hoardings in St. Mary’s churchyard awaiting the next phase of renovation.

Annual General Meeting : Secretary’s Report and Comments Jo Nelhams

The Society’s 48th Annual General Meeting was held on Tuesday 9th June 2009 with the President Harvey Sheldon in the Chair. In the absence of the Chairman, Don Cooper, Peter Pickering, the Vice-Chairman introduced the President. The attendance of members was very disappointing as only 22 attended, about 12% of the membership, with a further 10 members sending their apologies. However, it was the first evening of the tube strike which cannot have helped.

The Annual Report and Accounts were approved by the meeting.

The Officers and Committee remained unchanged and were duly re-elected, there being no further offers of people to fill the 4 vacancies still available.

A reminder of who is who on the elected committee:

Chairman: Don Cooper Vice-Chairman: Peter Pickering

Hon. Treasurer: Jim Nelhams Hon. Secretary: Jo Nelhams

Hon. Membership Secretary: Stephen Brunning


Bill Bass, Andrew Coulson, Eric Morgan, June Porges, Mary Rawitzer, Denis Ross, Andrew Selkirk, Tim Wilkins.

Four long-standing members died this year, Gillian Braithwaite, Andrew Saunders, Liz Holliday and Ann Kahn. They will be sadly missed.

More volunteers to act as editors/reserve editors of the newsletters are now badly needed, with access to a computer a requirement. Please contact a member of the committee if you are able to help. In the closing discussion the view was expressed that without active support from members for all the activities of the society, it would not be able to function.

The meeting was followed by presentations of the year’s activities in which members had participated.

Bill Bass presented an update on digging at Church Farm Museum. This was followed by the dig that took place at Hendon School, presented by Jim Nelhams. There will be further digs in both of these locations this year. Andy Simpson reported on the work of the Post-excavation Course run in conjunction with Birkbeck College with Jacqui Pearce as tutor. The book on the Church Terrace dig will be published later this year. Vicki Baldwin talked about the Cartwright Memorial (her report is above) and the evening concluded with a showing of a short film about the abandoned island of St. Kilda, made by a friend of Stewart Wild.

Those present at the AGM signed a get-well card and added personal messages to Don Cooper.

The following inscription was also added: –

The crew at our annual meeting But be sure, there’s no reason to panic. So we all have to make this appeal.

All wanted to send you a greeting. No need to get worried or manic We hope that, soon, better you’ll feel.

Such a shame you weren’t there We’re keeping afloat. For despite our endeavour,

To observe how they care No one’s rocking the boat, We know that it’s never

And to supervise moving the seating. And HADAS is not The Titanic. As good as when you’re at the wheel.

Other Societies’ Events from Eric Morgan

Thursday 2nd July, 7pm Enfield Society: Heritage Walk – Enfield Town.

Start at Market Place & look at historic buildings, including St Andrew’s Church & the Tudor

Room. End at Jubilee Hall with refreshments & sales tables

Other Societies’ Events (continued)

Thurs. 2nd July, 7-8.30pm Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, Mddx Univ, Cat Hill, Barnet:

Through the Keyhole. Talk, by Lesley Hoskins on the everyday lives of Victorians. £5

Sat. 4th July, 11am-5pm Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery: Open Day, Harrow Rd NW6 &

Ladbroke Grove W10. Displays, stalls, food, incl. Willesden Local History Soc, bookstalls

Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th July, 12-7pm. East Barnet Festival, Oak Hill Park, Church Hill Rd,

E. Barnet. Lots of community stalls

Sunday 5th July, Avenue House Grounds, East End Rd, N3

2.15pm: Tree Walk, by Gary Pearse (Friends of Windsor Open Space)

3-5pm: The Bothy Garden Open Day

Tuesday 7th July, 2-3pm. Harrow Museum, Headstone Manor, Pinner View, North Harrow:

40 Years at Kodak. Talk by Tony Earle. £3

Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th July. Enfield Archaeological Society:

Dig at Theobalds Palace, Cedars Park, Broxbourne

Saturday 11th July, from 12-o’clock. Pentland Finchley Community Festival:

Victoria Park, Ballards Lane, N3. Lots of community stalls, incl. the Finchley Society

Tuesday 14th July, 8pm. Amateur Geological Society, The Parlour, St Margaret’s Church,

Victoria Ave, N3: Rock Curiosities. Talk, Stuart Adams

Wednesday 15th July, 7.30pm. Willesden Local History Soc: Guided tour of Lower Place.

Meet promptly, Grand Junction Arms car park, Acton Lane NW10. Led by Cliff Wadsworth

Saturday 18th & 19th July, 11am-4pm. Enfield Archaeological Society: Dig at Elsyng Palace

Forty Hall, Enfield (HADAS did resistivity here); also Enfield Museum Service:

The Tudors: in person & under your feet: Tudor Fayre

Saturday 18th July –Sunday 2nd August. Festival of British Archaeology, including Dig Harrow

exhibition 10.30am-5pm (Harrow Museum, see 7th July), Thames Treasures – London’s

River Revealed 10am(Sundays 11am)-6pm, series of events about the archaeology & the history

of the Thames. Full details: 020 7001 9844

Saturday 25th/Sunday 26th July, 11.30am-4pm. COLAS at the Tower (part of Festival of BA): a

wide range of public displays and activities in front of the Tower & (around midday) on the foreshore

Sunday 26th July, 2.30pm. Hornsey Historical Society: History Walk around Highgate, start

Pond Square, N6. For full details phone 020 8883 8486

Thanks to contributors: Peter Pickering, Stewart Wild, Vicki Baldwin, Jim & Jo Nelhams, Eric Morgan.

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