No. 560 NOVEMBER 2017 Edited by Micky Watkins
Tuesday 14th November at 8pm: The Hunting of Hephzibah. Lecture by Jim
Nelhams (HADAS Treasurer) PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF LECTURE. Sam
Wilson is unable to make it but it is hoped the talk on the Battle of Barnet Project will take place next year.
Sunday 10th December.12.30-4pm HADAS Christmas Party. Avenue House Cost £30. Apply to Jim Nelhams.
Full Christmas Lunch –Cash Bar – Raffle – Good Company – Surprises?
Tuesday 9th January 8pm: Prof. Christopher Scull “ The Anglo-Saxon princely burial at Prittlewell, Essex.”
Tuesday 13th February at 8pm: To Be Confirmed.
Tuesday 13h March at 8pm: Roman London’s First Voices: Roman writing-tablets from Bloomberg, London. Lecture by Dr Roger Tomlin.
All Lectures are held at Stephens House & Gardens (Avenue House), 17 East End Road, Finchley, N3 3QE, and start promptly at 8.00 pm, with coffee & tea served afterwards. Non-members welcome (£2.00). Buses 13, 125, 143, 326 & 460 pass nearby and Finchley Central Station (Northern line) is a 5-10-minute walk away.
When I first started on Jo’s family tree, nobody in her family knew anything about Hephzibah, nor even that she had existed. Tracking her around the world proved an interesting and satisfying project.
The search led me to dig through lots of historical records, to the point that I decided that this was family archaeology. Such records can help HADAS research – indeed, when we looked at Hendon House prior to digging at Hendon School, we were able to establish who had lived in the house in Victorian times.
So come and hear how through Hephzibah, the small village of Coton close to Cambridge is connected to the Oxfordshire village of Hailey, north of Witney, and the extra-ordinary twist at the end of the story.
At HADAS’s Annual General Meeting in June 2017, Harvey Sheldon, Robin Densem and
Jacqui Pearce provided background information to the Lant Street dig, which was dug in
1999. Since October 2016, the HADAS Finds Group under the expert guidance of Jacqui Pearce has been processing pottery finds and since October 2017, clay pipes from Lant Street, Southwark.
Harvey Sheldon explained how from 1995 to 2001, Birkbeck College organised training digs with the support of Southwark Council. He explained how this was driven by competitive tendering for Council services and need to fulfil requirements of Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning (PPG 16). This Policy was introduced in November 1990 following public outcry after a number of high-profile scandals such as the threatened destruction of the Rose Theatre in London by developers. The key concept was if archaeology cannot be preserved in situ then PPG 16 requires preservation by record.
The collaboration with John Dylan at Southwark Council was vital to establishing the training over a long period. Students got experience they needed and the Council was able to preserve by recording. Digs were for five week periods and included sites on Old Kent Road, Bermondsey and Old Jamaica Road. Due to lack of budget and expenses such as portacabins and portaloos, budgets for post evacuation work was limited, which is where HADAS Finds Group has become involved. The approach to training was a panel of tutors supervising on site with instructions on section drawing and planning, as well as specialist advice on finds.
Robin Densem explained that the site was a car park used by local primary school teachers and digging on the first week was delayed because of difficulty getting on site and getting the school teachers off. There were four buildings identified on site. Deep trenching and the small size of the site compared to student numbers was a major safety and logistical headache. The site was a practicable challenge with deep and rich archaeological finds and strong historical connections. The site did not bottom to natural sediments but did reveal brick walls with chalk foundations
Using historic maps and map regressions we able to see the 18th and 19th century buildings and relate them to the trenches dug by Birkbeck students. We know there was a public house on site and it was on this site where Charles Dickens lodged age twelve. His father, John Dickens, was at the Marshalsea prison for debt. By the time Charles Dickens wrote his first novel in 1836-37 (Pickwick Papers published in serial form), he had not forgotten Lant Street, even though he was only there for a few weeks at the age of twelve.
“There is a repose about Lant Street, in the Borough, which sheds a gentle melancholy upon the soul. There are always a good many houses to let in the street: it is a by-street too, and its dulness is soothing. A house in Lant Street would not come within the denomination of a firstrate residence, in the strict acceptation of the term; but it is a most desirable spot nevertheless. If a man wished to abstract himself from the world — to remove himself from within the reach of temptation — to place himself beyond the possibility of any inducement to look out of the window — we should recommend him by all means go to Lant Street.”
Charles Dickens, Pickwick Papers, 1837 Chapter XXXII.
Jacqui Pearce provided background on the HADAS Finds Group (which started in 2001) that is now working through the Lant Street material, including recording bulk finds of pottery and clay pipe, identifying small finds – the most interesting pieces found on site. Also, re-bagging and labelling, so the material can be sent to London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC), including sorting pottery into forms and fabric. We also identified some of the small finds for photographical recording by Susan Trackman. This term we are focussing on clay pipe, and we look at other material such as glass ware, ceramic building material
During the lecture Jacqui provided parallels to what we found on site from paintings of the relevant period. So for Surrey/ Hampshire border ware (17th century), we can see Jan Steen’s (1626-79) Private Bathers – a painter of the Dutch Golden Age.
There were also drinking vessels from the 17th century associated with public houses that were known on Lant Street – in dark colours with brown or black glazes. By the late 18th century there were redware’s such as pipkins – a cooking pot, usually with three legs and hollow handle designed to place directly over a heat source. There were chamber pots from the mid-18th century with comfy rims and London made earthenware such as storage jars. All of this material gives an impression of domestic life at Lant Street in the 17th – 18th centuries. Candlestick made in border ware, though it seemed less designed more improvised.
More refined pottery included tin glaze known as London Delftware (as the technique was first brought to England by Dutch potters) was found on site, including pottery made relatively locally at Rotherhithe. This pottery design is influenced by late Ming Chinese pottery with designs such as Bird on rock, Chinaman among grasses. The latter using colours blue and yellow, other popular colours are blue cobalt and mauve made from magnesium. Joseph Highmore’s painting, Mr Oldham and his guests (1734-1745)) shows a man grasping a bowl of this era.
Other material found on site includes drug jars from 17th century that could have been used by a pharmacist or apothecary on site or just in a domestic context. Also, white tin glaze chamber pots were found. We can see from the pottery how Lant Street was connected to the global trade and national production with Portuguese tin glaze with Chinese decoration from 1630’s with parrots and cultural themes. There was also 1660 – 18th century Staffordshire slip
– dishes and cups with names such as “TURNER” applied in jewelled slip. In addition there was Frechen stoneware from Northern Rhineland, and the appearance of English stoneware from the 1670’s, including from John Dwight’s (d.1703) pottery in Fulham, the pioneer of stoneware in Britain, building on German practice. Also, we have names on pottery, such as George and Dragon, which could be the name of the pub on Lant Street and techniques such as white salt glaze was introduced in the 1720’s. Various forms such as mini-mugs, an arm grasping snake handle from porringer and a pineapple shaped teapot in creamware from the 1740’s, – indicating global trade in luxuries. Pearlware appears from the last quarter of the 18th century with cobalt and tea bowls in pewter were influencing pottery production. Pottery found on site shows how this was part of a globally linked production. For example, Chinese porcelain with klobard decoration is over-painted in London or Amsterdam before being used in Lant Street. This is work in progress, and will take some detailed analysis before we can interpret these finds.
I went to Jersey with a Council for British Archaeology tour at the end of September. Jersey is no more than nine miles by five, so although the roads can be narrow and/or congested coach journeys from one site to another do not take long. The tour was led by Robert Waterhouse, Field Archaeologist to the Société Jersiaise, who lectured to us each evening in the Société’s rooms (although English is the language spoken, the French connection is evident in the names of streets etc). During the three days of the tour I saw was it seven neolithic tombs of various varieties, mostly benefiting from the activities of past antiquaries, two Iron Age promontory forts, two major castles on the coast (one Elizabethan, and the other dating from soon after continental Normandy was lost in 1204 to the English (Angevin) crown) and the Channel Islands remained possessions of King John.
The best preserved and most remarkable of the Neolithic tombs is La Hougue Bie, an 18.6-metre-long passage chamber covered by a 12.2 metre high earth mound; see the picture below. On the top is a mediaeval chapel, remodelled just before the reformation to have in it a replica of Christ’s sepulchre in Jerusalem (actually, there was at one time an eighteenthcentury folly, but it was demolished by the excavators in the ’twenties because they feared its weight would damage the tomb beneath). We went, bent double, into the chamber, which is supposed to be lit by the rising sun at the equinox; no-one got up early enough to test this.
Another highlight of the tour was the Câtillon hoard, found in 2012. In the museum, just by La Hougue Bie, we met the conservators and one of the detectorists who had found it. It was not quite a chance find, since an old lady had said that when she was a girl work on a
hedgerow had uncovered some ‘funny-looking silvery buttons’; hunting for the place referred to eventually found, at a depth below that searchable by most metal detectors, this hoard of some 70,000 coins. Oh, and there were quite a few pieces of gold – torcs and the like – as well. The coins were almost all of the Coriosolitae tribe, from mainland France. Clearly, as has been observed, Jersey was seen as a good place to deposit your wealth then, as it is today! Lifting the hoard, the size of a small bath, in one piece was a major achievement. Conserving the coins and other objects is almost complete, though a section of the hoard is being retained as it was, for the benefit of future generations with, perhaps, even better techniques than we have. The conservators have some specialised equipment, for scanning coins before they are removed from the mass.
The detectorists’ declaration of the find to the authorities for proper excavation was exemplary, though Jersey has no modern treasure legislation, and even how far the mediaeval provisions of Treasure Trove apply in Jersey seemed unclear. There is now pressure for Jersey to pass a modern treasure law, based on that in England and Wales.
Having loaded our luggage and food supplies at our home, and with Dave Ketley as driver, our coach took its usual tour of the Borough before heading westward onto the M40, where our first stop, for comfort and a quick coffee or something stronger, was at the Beaconsfield services. Thirty seven passengers plus mascots were with us with a further three to join later at the hotel.
Leaving Beaconsfield, we headed north for our first visit at Redditch, where because of the excellence of our guides and the interest shown, we had little time to visit the adjacent ruins of Bordesley Abbey (though it was a little damp) after which we called at Jodrell Bank before heading on to our hotel at Frodsham. But let fellow travellers take up the story.
The Redditch area has been the centre of needle making in Britain since the 17th century. At first it was a cottage industry with people working in their own homes. In the early 19th Century machines were introduced and so production was concentrated in factories. The Museum shows the ten processes used to turn coils of steel wire into needles.
The heated wire was pulled through holes of diminishing size to the required thickness, it was cut into the length of two needles and straightened. Next the “pointer” held 50 to 100 needles against the grinding stone. This was the most dangerous job because the men continually inhaled stone and metal dust and got “twitters” of metal flying into their eyes. “Pointers Rot” was the name for their lung disease and they mostly died before they were 30. They were paid a guinea a day, which meant they were rich.
Women, who were only paid 8 to 12 shilling a week, stamped the needle eyes with a stamp worked by foot. Women and children filed off excess metal and broke the double needles into two. Boys were paid only 2 shillings a week. They all worked 13 hours a day with one hour off for dinner and 2 half hour breaks.
On the top floor of the Museum building there is a display of the different types of needle made – for sail-making, bookbinding, embroidery, tapestry, leather. gramophones and fishhooks. I did not see this display as I did not have time because I was so fascinated by the needle-making processes.
Apart from the Museum, we saw the water wheel and the Scouring Mill it motivated. The mill pond is fed by a stream once known as the “Red Ditch” from which the town gets its name. Needles were brought here from all the neighbouring factories in order to polish them. About 60,000 needles were placed in a sett, a wooden holder lined with canvas, and powdered stone and grease added. Each sett was tied up tightly and then they were rolled for at least a day, and for a week for “best brights”. Then they were washed, and dried in barrels filled with sawdust which were revolved by the water power. The gleaming needles were packed by women and children at home.
The Museum and Forge Mill are run by the local authority and volunteers who kindly started the water wheel for us. The whole site is an excellent display of industrial archaeology.
(Photo from Andy Simpson showing the machinery, powered by the overshot water wheel, which rolls the setts of needles)
Very few of us managed to get more than a glimpse of the low lying ruins of the Abbey as we ran out of time. But situated close to the Needle factory, its visible remains belie its local past importance. Built in the 12 Century by Cistercian monks, an ascetic order who focused then on spiritual communion with God and valued isolated places to live, it survived and changed till the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. It has been virtually undisturbed since that time—except by local archaeologists.
In 1864, a local teacher began excavations and drew up plans from his researches to show what the Abbey would have looked like. The night stairs can still be seen but nothing on a large scale. Since 1969, the local authority has supported an annual excavation. Before the Abbey, there is evidence of pre-historic and Roman occupation of the land from artefacts found there. The Abbey site itself has revealed changing floor and building levels, water mills and workshops which point to leather, metal and wood working and cemeteries with skeletons. The monks owned large tracts of inhospitable land which they cleared, drained and levelled for building and used for sustenance and building materials. They even changed the landscape by altering the course of the river. And in the 14th century, 3000 sheep were recorded. The hard work was undertaken by the lay brothers rather than the monks themselves.
The Abbey contracted in the late Middle Ages, either due to flooding or lack of available labour, and was given the coup de grace by Henry VIII at the dissolution.
The Grade I listed Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank, with its 76.2 metre dish, is an impressive sight. The giant gear racks for its tilting mechanism were recycled from the 15-inch gun turrets of two battleships, the Royal Sovereign and the Revenge, which were being broken up. I was surprised to learn that even though it is sixty years old, it is still the third largest fully steerable radio telescope in the world. It is so sensitive that we were required to turn off our mobile phones, although this turned out to be unnecessary as the telescope is currently turned off while it undergoes repair and enhancement. There is a visitor centre which shows several interesting films.
It is well known that it was the only telescope able to track the first man-made object in space in 1957, the Russian Sputnik 1, but I was fascinated to learn that it also had a role in the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, when the dish was pointed towards Russia to warn if any missiles were launched. It played an important role in the discovery of pulsars, the extremely compressed cores of stars which have exploded. It is now part of a network of seven radio telescopes to create one virtual telescope 217 kilometres across, which can produce images as sharp as the Hubble Space Telescope. Recently, the Lovell telescope has joined a collaboration with a much larger baseline to image the black hole at the centre of our galaxy.
(It is interesting to add that most of the things recorded by the telescope are considerably older than anything archaeologists might dig. Effectively, Jodrell Bank is the start of space archaeology. JN)
“Best Western Forest Hills Hotel” was constructed in 1988. With its superb location on top of Frodsham Hill and wonderful views across the Mersey estuary the area was ideal for picnic parties, Sunday School outings and day trippers looking to enjoy the simple pleasures of a children’s playground, swing boats and a helter-skelter.
The site had been used as a business for over 100 years and early records show there had been a coffee shop here before the turn of the century. During the early 1900’s the business was extended to include further public entertainment’s such as live music and dancing. During the Second World War the business ceased whilst the premises were taken over by the Ministry of Defence and the skating rink turned into a hospital.
In 1947 the site was returned to the owners and further development of the catering and entertainment facilities took place. The emphasis during the 1960’s was placed on the dance hall and live entertainment. In the late 60’s early 70’s, ballroom dancing gave way to pop groups and cabaret artistes. Many famous artistes who appeared include Gerry and the
Pacemakers, the Searchers, Showaddywaddy, Lulu and Luvvers and the swinging Blue Jeans.
Undoubtedly the most exciting night of all was in 1963 when the Beatles performed, many local people have vivid memories of the exhilarating atmosphere on that incredible night. The lively programme also included such well-known personalities as Bob Monkhouse, Frankie
Vaughan, Cannon & Ball, Tom O’Connor and Ken Dodd.”
As well as comfortable rooms, we enjoyed good food and friendly service, and splendid sandwiches made in the kitchen to be included in our packed lunches.
A Useful Tube Map Deirdre Barrie
Map of Roman sites in London expressed as a tube map see this link
Monday 6th Nov. CBA, The Linnean Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly. Archaeology
Day and AGM, beginning with a discussion on the public image of archaeology, followed by
AGM. Then a celebration of community archaeology by the presentation of the Marsh Awards. Drinks reception. Then a lecture on Presenting Maritime Archaeology to the Public by Christopher Dobbs and Alexandra Hildred. See www.maryrose.org.
Wednesday 8th Nov. 2pm. City of London, Guildhall Library, Aldermanbury, EC2V 7HH. The Rediscovery of Roman London: from John Stowe to William Stukeley. Talk by John Clark.
Sunday 3rd Dec. 10.30am. Heath and Hampstead Society. Meet in Hampstead Lane by the
210 bus stop opp. Stormont Rd. The Hidden Heath, Signs of the Heath’s Past. Walk by Michael Hammerson. Lasts approx 2 hrs. Dpnation £5.
Wednesday 6th Dec. 6pm. Gresham College at Museum of London, 150 London Wall EC2Y
5HW. House, Shop and Wardrobe in London’s Merchant Community. Talk by Simon Thurley. Free.
Tuesday 12th Dec. 6.30pm. Lamas. Clore Learning Centre, Museum of London. London’s Waterfront. Talk by John Schofield. Visitors £2.
Tuesday 12th Dec. 7.45pm. Amateur Geological Society, Finchley Baptist Church, East End Rd.,N3 3PL. (opp. Avenue House). Why Planet Earth is Habitable. Talk by Dr PhilipStrandmann.
Wednesday 13th Dec. 2.30pm.Mill Hill Historical Society, Trinity Church, The Broadway, Mill Hill, NW7. How to Keep Your Head – A Light Hearted Look at the Tower of London and its Surroundings. Talk by Danny Hockman (Blue badge guide).