HADAS EVENTS 2011
The winter lecture series is held, as ever, at Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley. Nearest tube Finchley Central. Lectures start promptly at 8pm, non-members £1, coffee/biscuits available for purchase (80p).
Erratum Bill Bass
“Apologies for the page folding difficulties and for spelling Stewart Wild’s name in a variety of different ways in the last Newsletter!”
Tuesday 8th February 2011
Dr. Richard Stein: The Roman Wooden Water Pump – an ingenious machine (Abstract. on p.7)
Tuesday 8th March 2011
Keith J Fitzpatrick-Matthews: The Archaeology of Baldock
Tuesday 12th April 2011
Dr Robin Woolven: Bomb Damage in London and Middlesex
Tuesday 10th May 2011
Ken Brereton: The Markfield Beam Engine — the influence of effluence
Tuesday 11th October 2011
Dr John Creighton: Silchester The revelation of an Iron Age and Roman city
Tuesday 8th November 2011
Nathalie Cohen: The Thames Discovery Programme
A note from PETER PICKERING; On December 4th I attended the annual Heritage Day organised by the Heritage Alliance. It was in the splendid surroundings of the Banqueting House; King Charles I himself, Loyd Grossman (he of the sauces and Chairman of Heritage Alliance) and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr Jeremy Hunt) all spoke to us, and there were messages relevant to HA DAS in what the latter two said and in the discussions.
Loyd Grossman emphasised the need to keep pressing the place of heritage in the core values of the United Kingdom, which needed appropriate and sustainable funding; (try telling THAT to Barnet Council – Ed) it was not valuable only for tourism. It was important therefore for everyone to make their local MP aware of how important heritage was to their constituents.
I was in a discussion group which concentrated on the effects of the recession and the cuts in the numbers of public servants. This could ironically, have some benefits for voluntary organisations if it led to an increase in the number of people with experience coming forward and offering their services, and organisations should be ready to welcome them and use their talents. People in the group also laid stress on the economic return from heritage — visitors to historic buildings etc — quoting some other countries, and wanted to see this pressed hard on Ministers. The old civil servant in me made me point to the expensive millennium projects that had closed because visitor numbers had never reached the forecast level.
Mr Hunt emphasised the importance of heritage to the Government’s agenda, for its intrinsic value as well as its great importance for tourism. The historic environment was crucial in attracting investment, and transformed development. He urged local authorities to remember that “heritage is your friend and your ally when it comes to regeneration projects. Heritage and a link to a community‟s past can provide the x-factor that transforms a development into something that really works and has the support of the local community.” He returned several times to the absolute need for big reductions in government expenditure, but said that though there was a 50% cut in English Heritage, the Arts Council, the Sports Council and the Dept. for Culture, Media & Sport, the overall cut to the heritage sector was no more than 2.5%. The Heritage Lottery Fund would be a stronger force in funding projects. He spoke with enthusiasm of the need to have more philanthropy in the country, as in the USA; there was to be a full review of philanthropy, with Treasury participation, and there was to be a £80m fund to help smaller organisations develop their fund-raising capacity.
Norwich trip — The final day -Castle Acre — Castle, Priory and Town Emma Robinson
Our first sight of Castle Acre from the coach revealed a landscape which was clearly meant to impress us with the power of its medieval owners. The Castle, although robbed of most of its stonework, has truly massive earthworks and is an outstanding example of a motte-and-bailey Norman castle. The extensive monastic remains – amongst the most complete in England – demonstrate the wealth and influence of the medieval Church. The planned fortified medieval town – with its substantial town church just outside its walls – nestles between the Castle and Priory further stressing the economic prosperity of this successful settlement.
On our arrival at Castle Acre the coach set us down at the Priory where coffee awaited us. However, after my husband David and I had made an initial brief exploration of the Priory site – making a particular note of the surrounding landscape particularly the proximity and course of the River Nar – we decided to start our full explorations from the Castle since this is where the story of Castle Acre really began.
Before embarking on an account of our wanderings, perhaps it might be helpful to start by saying a little of the history of Castle Acre and its origins? At the time of William the Conqueror‟s [William I] victory at the Battle of Hastings (1066) there was already a substantial settlement at Acre as it was already known. This included a significant house and a church. The Anglo-Saxon landowner was one Toki who, in common with many of his class, was dispossessed. His lands were granted by William I to a Norman knight who he had created the First Earl of Chester. By 1070-1071 the lands had passed to William W arenne – probably through his wife Gunrada who was the sister and heir of the Earl of Chester. It was the Warrene family who were to create Castle Acre as their power base in Norfolk. The site was doubtless selected because of fine strategic location and because it was central to Warenne‟s other Norfolk holdings. In any case it was already a prosperous long established Anglo-Saxon estate and the focus of an existing communication network. Soon after 1066 the new Norman lords began building hundreds of castles across the country to protect their new estates – with new religious foundations and planned towns often following soon after. The new settlement at Castle Acre followed this plan and was to flourish for many years. Its decline began after the town defences and Castle were abandoned in the Middle Ages. However, it was ultimately the suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII which was to lead to the closure of the Priory in 1537.
The landscape of Castle Acre is a remarkable survival by any reckoning. It tells us the story of the enormous impact the Norman Conquest made not only on the physical face of the landscape but also on the ownership, government, social, religious and economic life of England. Today, this is naturally manifested by the physical remains of the castle, priory and defended medieval town – but it is also well represented in surviving rich manuscripts and other records created by the monastic community and the owners of Castle Acre. In a strange way as we will see it was due to the suppression of the monasteries that visitors today are able to see this remarkably well preserved relict landscape from the Middle Ages – which gives us such tantalising glimpses into the lives of people many centuries ago.
Castle Acre was built on rising land above low lying meadows and is bounded to the south east by the River Nar. The massive Castle earthworks were raised on a hill to the northeast of the site and are a remarkable statement of what can be achieved by the physical labour of working people. The planned walled town and Priory lie to the west beneath the Castle on gently sloping land above the meadows and the river.
To obtain a good view over the landscape David and I made for the vantage point of the Castle motte. We walked from the Priory in an easterly direction down Stocks Green (the main street of today‟s village) passing the ancient parish church and northern defences of the medieval town. In passing we made a note of the ancient Ostrich Inn with a view to rewarding our exertions in due course. It proved a good choice!
We entered the Castle from the north scaling the great motte on which are located the remains of the strongly defended inner bailey. To the south of us lay the vast inner bailey – whilst to the east an enclosure known as the barbican protected the castle entrance which faced open country. The Castle was impressive even though it has been robbed of most of its stone and the walls which remained are largely composed of flint and mortar. But nevertheless the ruins which remain are a superb example of a Norman motte-and-bailey castle. Little remains of the succession of buildings in the inner bailey which was to culminate in the building of a great tower. Even less remains of the domestic buildings and stables, storehouses and workshops within the outer bailey without which no castle could function.
Crossing the outer bailey we left through the south eastern Castle gate and entered the town through what had been the southern town gate – although the gate and the ramparts sadly have been destroyed. The medieval fortified town was a discrete settlement the boundaries of which are remarkably well preserved. We traced the line of the massive ramparts – some of which still exist. The houses to the south of Stock Green – the main street of today‟s settlement – are actually built on the filled in ditch of the northern rampart. On this thoroughfare stands the main northern entrance to the town – the 12th century Bailey Gate – leading to Bailey Street the main street of the medieval town which runs south east towards the site of the southern gate. Unlike many medieval towns which were also the site of monasteries the town possesses its own separate church (dedicated to St James the Great) and this lies in a large enclosure outside the town walls. The church has a long and rich history which will form the subject of another contribution to the Newsletter.
Our wanderings then took us in a south westerly direction towards the line of the Priory Precinct wall. Here we followed the course of the River Nar and the medieval stream which was built to take water from the river to serve the needs of the Priory cleansing the site before returning to the river – flowing last under the latrine block.
Perhaps here a few words first about the origins of the monastic settlement at Castle Acre might be helpful – since this is not without interest and helps tell the story of Castle Acre. About 1080 William W arenne first settled a small group of Cluniac monks here bringing them from his own foundation of the Priory of St Pancras at Lewes in Sussex. This was to become what is widely considered to be England‟s first Cluniac monastery. Such Cluniac foundations were called priories since formally the prior was subject to the French Abbot of Cluny. The Cluniacs followed a rigorous interpretation of the 6th century Rule of St Benedict – which formed the basis of so much of medieval monastic life. However, they were also distinguished by their love of art and decoration which is so well documented at Castle Acre. An initial gift of land was made by William Warenne – but for this first small group of monks their church was almost certainly on the site of the pre-Conquest site of the parish church. It is suggested that this was enveloped in the development of the Castle site and was perhaps retained as the castle chapel. The Priory thus began modestly. It was through an initiative by William‟s son William II (probably in 1090) that the Priory was re-founded and the current site given to the monks.
In our wandering we then traced the Priory‟s eastern precinct walls northwards entering the Priory again by the main entrance. The roofless but otherwise remarkably fine early 16th century gatehouse remains. The gatehouse and precinct wall (which enclosed some 40 acres) reminded us that this was essentially a gated community – which many monks would rarely leave. The life of the monastic community naturally centred in the church and buildings around the cloister (to which laymen were only admitted by permission of the guest master). Here seven times a day the monks would assemble in divine worship and follow the complex and elaborate liturgy of their order – comprising song, prayer, reading and the processions for which their order was famed. The buildings therefore needed to be fit for these special purposes, but it must also be remembered that an important role of medieval religious houses was to provide hospitality to pilgrims, royalty, clergy, nobility and other travellers. In this way they could be seen to act as the first hotels.
To bring some organisation to our wanderings we followed the English Heritage guide book tour . By convention this first took us through the Priory church – the west front of which is widely considered to be the finest of the 12th century English facades. The tour then progressed to the buildings where the monks lived and worked. These comprise of the cloister, chapter house, dormitory, day room, infirmary, latrine block and warming room, refectory and kitchens. Whilst the life of the monks was an austere one – one can only be impressed by the ingenuity in their ordering of the buildings around the cloister to serve their way of life. For example, the special night stairs which lead from the dormitory to the church, and fact that the dormitory was served with first floor access to the latrine block!
From there the tour continued to what is known as the west range. Here are to be found the Prior‟s private accommodation (parlour and chapel), guest hall and, significantly the food and drink store. After the suppression the prior‟s lodging was retained as a house by the Coke family and remains roofed to this day – a fascinating survival. The Priory tour ended with some consideration of the buildings and activities contained in the precinct. For me one of the real fascinations of my tour round the Priory is that the remains are so complete that with a little imagination it is possible to transport oneself back to the world of the Priory when it was in its heyday. It was a substantial and diverse community and not only home to the monks – but also to their diverse numbers of lay servants and visitors. To sustain the daily way of life and economy of life the precinct supported numerous activities. The guide book listed fishponds, gardens, orchards, a vineyard, barns, a dovecote, a mill, granaries, a brewhouse, a bakery, a dairy and stables. Traces of some of which we were able to identity. But beyond the physical remains of the buildings to the monks of Castle Acre we also owe the creation of a number of remarkable manuscripts which helps to tell us more about the way of life of the Priory.
The end for Castle Acre during Henry VIII‟s suppression of the monasteries came quickly. Under Thomas Cromwell the process of suppression started with the smaller houses in 1536 and the larger ones between 1537 and 1540. Castle Acre was surrendered in 1537 by the prior Thomas Malling. John Howard third duke of Norfolk acquired the lease for the priory‟s site, lands and rights. Demolition of the buildings was underway by the summer of 1558. By 1615 the whole Castle Acre property had been purchased by Sir Edward Coke (1551-1633) in whose family the estate remains. From the 17th to the 20th century the Castle site was used for grazing and the masonry ruthlessly quarried for stone. The Priory precinct, however, was for many years until c. 1900 used as a farm – with the Prior‟s lodging the farm house. In 1929, “thanks to a suggestion by the Norfolk Archaeological Society, the main buildings were taken into State guardianship by the Ministry of Works … and the publication of the first official guidebook swiftly followed” [ 1 ] .
Today the Priory site lies in a tranquil backwater beside the river Nar. It is easy to forget that for some 450 years it was part of the vast monastic network in Europe which was centred on Cluny Abbey in France – with the priory heads required to attend an annual Chapter there. When taken together with the comings and goings of Castle, Priory and town folk together with visitors and traders – Castle Acre must have been a lively settlement.
After our wanderings we were pleased to be able to retire to the garden of the Ostrich Inn with a pleasant bottle of chilled white wine and reflect on what we had seen! Impey, E. 2008. Castle Acre Priory and Castle / English Heritage Guidebooks.
St. James the Great at Castle Acre Micky Watkins
Quite separate from Castle Acre Priory, the village church, far from being a ruin, shows every sign of care and frequent use. St. James was the first of the apostles to be martyred and there is a shrine to him at Compostela. Pilgrimages to Compostela were favoured by the Cluniac monks in the priory, and St. James is depicted with a pilgrim‟s shell and staff.
Some of the church was built in the 13th century but most of it dates from the 15th century. Two restorations were carried out in the 19th century, in 1846 and 1875, but the original character of the church has not been lost. It is a big church with a broad nave and the perpendicular windows with clerestories above flood it with light.
The rood screen dating from the 13th century is unusually well preserved. The lower half shows the 12 apostles and is painted. Some fragments of the top part remain. The 15th century hexagonal font is on an unusually high pedestal and we wondered how some of the shorter clergy could have managed baptisms. On top is a strangely tall wooden font cover. The guide suggests it is the tabernacle of St. Katherine which was left to the church in 1506. There are traces of red, green and gold paintwork on the carved wood and a golden ball a‟top. The purpose of the font cover was to protect the holy water from theft, maybe for witchcraft.
The 14th century pews and misericords in the choir stalls are richly carved with lions and dogs, smooth from centuries of stroking. The pulpit is hexagonal on a wineglass stem. The panels show St. Gregory, St. Jerome who translated the Bible into Latin, St. Ambrose who fought against the Aryan heresy, and St. Augustine whose famous confessions include “O Lord, make me chaste, but not yet”.
All Saints Church Icklingham Jo Nelhams
Our final stop was the village of Icklingham Suffolk situated on the A1101 from Bury St. Edmunds to Mildenhall . Icklingham appears to have been a very early settlement. The village sign depicts the towers of Icklingham‟s two churches with Roman soldiers and Boudica in her chariot. Roman remains have been found including coins of the 3rd century, two lead cisterns and part of a Roman settlement, which may have lasted to the 5th century. The adjoining parish of West Stow an Anglo-Saxon settlement visited on our outward journey, dates possibly from the 4th century.
The two ancient churches are about half a mile apart as Icklingham was once two separate parishes. St. James‟ church in the village centre is now the parish church; All Saints ceased regular use in 1972 and is in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust.
The most striking feature of the exterior is its thatched roof, except for the tower, which although common in earlier times on East Anglian churches, is a rarity today.
The church has evolved over the years from the 11th century.
The north wall of the nave contains some of the original masonry remains, with flints and stones in horizontal layers. The tower and south aisle were added between 1270 and 1350. The variety of windows are a study on their own and the 14th century octagonal font is described as being like a small textbook of early 14th century window design. The three doorways are also of the first half of the 14th century.
At one time there was a small musicians’ gallery at the west end of the nave, believed to have been broken by the Puritan soldiers, who used the church as a stable. Other aspects of interest include a complete 13th century stone coffin, a 16th century parish chest with the evidence of 3 locks, the dado of the 15th century rood screen and a rood -loft staircase. There was much more in this rare and beautiful survival, but time was marching on.
A welcome cup of coffee (or other liquid) at the convenient „Plough Inn‟ on the opposite side of the road, fortified us for the final lap of our journey as all climbed aboard Dave‟s chariot for the last time.
A birding opportunity Sylvia Javes
Whenever I go on a trip with HADAS I take my birding binoculars, as there is nearly always an opportunity to indulge in my favourite pastime, and our trip to Norwich was no exception. Through the weekend I saw 32 species of birds, some of which were very common, but others were birds we certainly don‟t see every day.
At the Anglo-Saxon village at Stowe, they had feeders outside the cafe, and in no time I had counted up to a dozen species including Coal Tits, Blue and Great Tits, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chaffinch, Nuthatch, Pheasant, and Collared Dove. Also that day, at Thetford Priory, were a Robin, Jackdaws and a Heron.
Late August isn‟t the most productive time of year for bird spotting, so over the next few days there were few different birds to add to my list, however, at Caistor St Edmunds, there were Rooks, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Starlings in a sheep field, and House Martins and Swallows were seen in various places. On our final full day, on the boat ride to Berney Arms, there was a real treat. From the boat could be seen Cormorants, Herring Gulls, Lapwings, Great Crested Grebe, Redshanks, Goldfinches, Egyptian Geese, and Little Egret.
Perhaps the biggest birding surprise of the weekend was right at the end of our trip. Castle Acre Priory was bathed in sunshine; there were Swallows visiting nests on the ruins, a large flock of Goldfinches fed on thistles in an adjacent field … and in a large tree at the end of the Priory grounds was a Spotted Flycatcher. Once common, these birds are sadly becoming quite rare. I suspect this one was travelling through on its way back to Africa, as the Priory staff (who were well aware of the wildlife in the grounds) had not seen it. It was the only one I had seen all year, so I was really delighted.
HADAS in Norfolk- the plane spotter’s perspective Andy Simpson
Our splendid boat trip out of Great Yarmouth on the „Southern Belle‟ to Berney Mill provided an unexpected bonus in the form of a solo (probably practice) aerobatic display-complete with looping the loop – by a very rumbly-radial engined light aircraft. Vicki‟s telephoto lens showed up the aircraft‟s registration, G- IMIC, which identified it as a 1989- built Yakovlev Yak-52 two-seat primary trainer, originally designed for use by the Soviet Air Force. The type originally flew in 1976 and is still in production in Romania.
The gloriously sunny visit to the wonderful Castle Acre Priory and Castle gave plenty of opportunity to admire passing (at v. low level!) RAF Panavia Tornado jet aircraft, known as „Tonkas‟ (after the old „70s toys) for the strength of their construction.
These were probably from the four squadrons of Tornado GR4 reconnaissance aircraft based not too far away at RAF Marham, Norfolk.
On our way back home on the Wednesday via the A 1065 we passed the end of the main runway and main gate of RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk. Although an RAF base, the residents are American; The USAF 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath is the Statue of Liberty Wing, the only USAF wing with a number and name. In addition to supporting three combat-ready squadrons of F-15E Strike Eagle and F-15C Eagle tactical fighter aircraft, the Liberty Wing houses the 56th Rescue Squadron‟s HH-60G Combat Search and Rescue helicopters.
RAF Lakenheath, and nearby, RAF Mildenhall , are the two main U.S. Air Force-operated bases in United Kingdom, and 48th Fighter Wing is the only U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USA FE) McDonnell Douglas F-15 fighter Wing. A good deal of neck-straining gave a few tantalising glimpses of distinctive F-15 twin tails peeping out from behind buildings and hangars as we passed.
Prominent on the main gate as we passed was pole-mounted North American
F-100D-16-NA „Super Sabre‟ serial number 42269. This particular classic „Cold War‟ jet fighter-bomber actually last served with the French Air Force, one of 100 F-100s supplied to them under the Military Assistance Programme. Not visible from the road was the base‟s „Wings of Liberty‟ Memorial park, with three former USAF jets and a full-sized replica Spitfire.
Last aircraft of the weekend was a superb landing view from the motorway of a FedEx freight aircraft on finals to London Stansted airport. I believe this was either one of a dwindling handful of 1970s McDonnell Douglas DC-10 tri-jet former airliners still operated by the carrier; their final withdrawal is due in a year or so, or, more likely, one of the many M D-11 F freight-carrying derivatives operated by FedEx.
So, truly – a weekend with something for all!
Round up Jim Nelhams
Here endeth our reports on the trip to Norwich. Thanks to all those who have contributed reports for the newsletter. We hope that each of our fellow passengers and you, our readers, will have found something of interest, perhaps unexpected, and not necessarily archaeological.
ABSTRACT; Richard Stein: The Roman Wooden Water Pump – an ingenious machine
We know that the Romans used many types of machine. Ancient authors mention them, and we can often see evidence of their use. But their remains are, at best, fragmentary. Unlike buildings, which often survive very well, they are made of wood, metal, rope, and leather, which have either perished, or been recycled. But there is one exception — the force pump. This was used to fight fires – and also to raise water from wells, or from the surface to an even higher level.
The principle of the force pump is attributed to Ctesibius of Alexandria (fl. c.270 B.C.). The earlier examples were made of bronze, but the original design was cleverly re-engineered in Roman times to make pumps easier and cheaper to make and to maintain, by cutting apertures in a large block of oak, and making internal spaces pressure proof by plugging their extremities.
Eighteen wooden pumps have been found, mostly in wells, and remains of thirteen survive, some in very good condition. We now know how they were configured; how their parts were made and put together; and how they were driven – and we can estimate their performance. This machine therefore gives us a unique insight into the capabilities of Roman mechanical engineers.
Richard Stein has been a member of HADAS since 2005. His Cambridge degree is in engineering, though most of his career was as a finance director in British multinationals. He had always been interested in the Roman world, and in retirement worked for his PhD on the wooden force pump at the University of Reading, where he had the good fortune to have two joint supervisors — a Professor of Archaeology, and a Professor of Engineering. He continues to work on the subject, as new finds are made, and new theories are proposed.
Text Box: OTHER SOCIETIES’ LECTURES & EVENTS ERIC MORGANThursday 3 February 8pm Pinner Local History Society Village Hall, Chapel Lane Car Park, Pinner. Roman London Dr. Isobel Thompson. Visitors £2.
Wednesday 9 February 2.30pm Mill Hill Historical Society Wilberforce Centre, St Paul‟s Church, The Ridgway NW 7 St Lawrence Church-Little Stanmore. Talk by Sheila Woodward (HADAS Member) Preceded by AGM.
Monday 14 February 3pm Barnet & District Local History Society Church House, Wood St, Barnet (Opposite Museum) From Barclays to Barclaycard Talk by Richard Selby Tea & Biscuits afterwards.
Tuesday 15 February 6.15pm LAMAS Clore Learning Centre, Museum of London, London Wall, EC2 The London boyhood of Thomas More Talk by Prof. Caroline Barron. Preceded by AGM. Refreshments 5.30pm.
Tuesday 15 February 2.15pm Edmonton Hundred Historical Society Jubilee Hall, 2, Parsonage Lane Junction Chase Side, Enfield. Ice Houses – talk by Ruth Hazeldine (Hornsey Historical Society) Visitors £1.
Wednesday 16 February 8pm Islington Archaeology & History Society Islington Town Hall, Upper St, N1. Charterhouse Square & the English Stage rebirthing Talk by Colin D. Brooking on proposed visual archaeology around Charterhouse
Friday 18 February 8pm Enfield Archaeological Society Jubilee Hall 2, Parsonage Lane Enfield The Fourth Cradle? New Discoveries in Bronze Age Iran Talk by Ian Jones Visitors £1. Refreshments, sales and info from 7.30pm.
Wednesday 23 February7.45pm Friern Barnet & District Local History Society St John‟s Church Hall (Next to Whetstone Police Station) Friern Barnet Lane, N20 Recycling & Waste Prevention Verity Jones Cost £2. Refreshments available.
Thursday 24 February 2.30pm Finchley Society Drawing Room, Avenue House, East End Rd, N3 The Royal Air Force Museum Talk by David Keen Visitors £2
Thanks as ever to this month’s contributors; Bill Bass; Sylvia Javes; Eric Morgan; Jim and Jo Nelhams; Peter Pickering; Emma Robinson; Richard Stein; Micky Watkins.