HADAS and the Mesolithic
By Daphne Lorimer.
In spring, 1973, HADAS member Alec Jeakins made an exciting surface find of a collection of flint blades on Hampstead Heath (for obvious reasons the precise locality must, at present, remain unpublished).
The blades were seen by Desmond Collins, whose recent lecture to the Society on Neanderthal Man many members will have heard. He cautiously (because of their relatively small number) expressed the opinion that the blades could possibly indicate the presence of a Mesolithic site — the first in this part of London.
In April this year HADAS approached Mr. Enderby, of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute, and Mr Collins with the suggestion that an excavation be mounted on the site, linked with a short course of six lectures at the Institute on the Mesolithic period. This suggestion was favourably received; Mr Collins agreed both to give the lectures and to act as Director of the dig, and Mr. Enderby arranged for London University Extra-mural Department to sponsor the lectures.
Next Ted Sammes obtained the agreement of the Director of the recently formed Inner London Archaeological Unit, John Hinchliffe, as the site was just within the territory in which his Unit operates. The final hurdle was to gain the consent of the GLC to a dig on one of their best-known public open spaces. This was obtained on June 19th, when the Area Manager, J. D. Hancock, agreed in principle to HADAS’s “exciting proposal for an archaeological dig” — always provided the diggers respected the nesting sites of the blackcap, which finds the area favourable as — we hope — did Mesolithic man.
This project breaks new ground (if you can bear the pun) for HADAS in more ways than one. It will be our first opportunity to undertake a prehistoric dig in our own area, while the combination of digging plus lecture course will provide each with an extra dimension. Both dig and course will take place next April and May, and more detailed arrangements will be announced later.
Current News From The Dig/Field Work Front
Next, news of a HADAS dig starting this month, in the garden of No. 1 Woodlands (OS grid ref TQ 241 885) on the East side of Golders Green Road at its junction with the North Circular.
This is a site on which HADAS had a brief weekend dig in October, 1968 when a single trench was cut. This produced a stretch of possible road metalling and a small amount of associated medieval pottery of mainly fourteenth century date. We shall now explore the area beyond the original trench.
Alec Jeakins will be in charge of the dig, which will start on the weekend of August 16th/17th and will continue at weekends thereafter. Members interested in taking part should get in touch either with Alec or with the Hon. Secretary for further details.
It was hoped to investigate two other sites on the north-south line of Golders Green Road/Brent Street at the same time as Woodlands: the Brent Bridge Hotel and the empty site beside the White Swan. Whether we shall be able to start these in mid-August also will depend on a whether demolition is complete at Brent Bridge and upon the outcome of negotiations for permission to dig at the White Swan.
ST. JAMES THE GREAT, FRIERN BARNET. And Trewick reports that natural as been reached all over the excavated area. Back-filling is about to begin and should be completed by mid-August. A summary of the information uncovered on the site will appear in a later Newsletter.
PARISH BOUNDARY SURVEY. Christine Arnott and Paddy Musgrove report that this is continuing and new recruits are gradually being introduced. An account of the summer’s work will be given in an autumn Newsletter.
Norwich in July
As reported by Nell Penny.
The best comment I heard on the HADAS expedition to Norwich was that of a new member with whom I took tea. He said the “walkabout” had been so interesting that he was going back to the city for more.
We reached Norwich at noon on a pleasantly warm dry day. The ubiquitous car and coach park, until recently a cattle market, was on the site of the outer bailey of the Castle. Someone had to build a castle on the steep hill rising above the tidal River Wensum: it was the Normans who did it in 1130 and they threw up a motte for good measure. The facade of the Keep is very new looking. It was refaced between 1834-9, exactly copying the Norman original.
The Keep and new buildings in the inner bailey are the main city museum. I concentrated on the archaeological displays. There were introductory diorama: my ten year old granddaughter found them interesting. In one, Neolithic people were cooking and stretching hides against a backcloth of pleasant parkland in which mammoth and rhinoceri grazed peacefully. One case had real items and replicas from the Snettisham hoard of a metalsmith 2000 years ago. The discovery of this treasure in the 1950s by deep ploughing set every tractor driver in Norfolk looking for a similar lucky strike.
After lunch we divided ourselves between 2 guides provided by the Tourist Board. The guides are volunteers who attend winter lectures and take an examination. “B” party was led by an architect, employed by the city, so our tour had a pleasant flavour of “buildings for purposes.” We saw medieval and Tudor merchant houses. One with an arched gateway reminded us that wagons of cloth had rumbled through in the days of worsted making. Another was built in the fourteenth century of squared, or “knapped” flints. These are virtually indestructible and the walls have never needed repair. The last area of domestic architecture through which we walked was cobbled Elm Hill — a lovely hotch-potch of Tudor timber work and Georgian facades. The elm has been cured of Dutch elm disease by massive injections; the Briton’s Arms is being re-thatched with Broadland reeds.
Ecclesiastical Norwich has many monuments. The Cathedral and its precincts are what is left of a Benedictine monastery begun by Herbert de Losinga in 1096. Most of the splendid building is in the Norman style, but clerestory and cloisters or Early English.
I was equally attracted by the Nonconformist chapels. The simple Old Meeting House was built in the late seventeenth century by those “non-juror” clergy who could not accept the Act of Uniformity. The restrained use of oak furnishings made a very serene atmosphere. The Unitarians got Thomas Ivony to build them an octagonal chapel in the mid eighteenth century. When it was restored our guide designed the finial (it is not a weather vane) from a drawing contemporary with the new chapel.
I haven’t described London Street, a traffic artery which became a pleasant shopping precinct in 1967; our party hadn’t time to see the Market Place, Guildhall, or Maddermarket Theatre. But who can “do” Norwich in 4 1/2 hours? We did all manage to rendezvous at the Maid’s Head, another architectural hotch-potch, for a good tea.
We had seen and enjoyed enough to be very grateful to Pip Saunders, who had done that the essential fieldwork, and to Dorothy Newbury who is rapidly becoming a superb at logistic commander.
Sat Sept. 13 – Lullingstone Roman villa and Knole
Fri Sept.26-Sun. Sept.28 Weekend at Hadrian’s Wall
For members who would like some preliminary reading about the Wall, here is a special book-list, which may be used in conjunction with the Roman Britain booklist in Newsletter No. 42:
Four guides published by the Ministry of Public Building and Works, all obtainable from HMSO:
I. – HADRIAN’S WALL, illus, 1973, 32 1/2p.
II. – CHESTERS ROMAN FORT, 1972, 15p.
III. – CORBRIDGE ROMAN STATION, 1973, 15 1/2p
IV. – HOUSESTEADS ROMAN FORT, 1972, 15p.
History trails: HADRIAN’S WALL. Series by Les Turnbull, pub. 1974.
I. – ARCHAEOLOGY OF HADRIAN’S WALL
II. – GUIDE TO BIRDOSWALD AND GILSLAND AREA.
III. – GUIDE TO HOUSESTEADS AND THE GREAT WHIN SILL.
IV. – GUIDE TO CHESTERS, CAWBURGH AND VINDOLANDA.
All at £0.80 each, available from Dillons, the University Bookshop, Malet Street, WC1.
Other publications (prices are those applying at the time of publication):
ALONG HADRIAN’S WALL, David Harrison, 1962, Cassel 21s. (Also available in Pan paperback, £0.60)
HANDBOOK TO THE ROMAN WALL, J. Collingwood Bruce, 1957, Harold Hill & Sons, 15s.
RESEARCH ON HADRIAN’S WALL, Eric Birley, 1961, Titus Wilson, Kendall,37s 6d.
HADRIAN, Stewart Perowne, 1963, Hodder & Stoughton, 25s.
MAP OF HADRIAN’S WALL, 2 in. to mile, Ordnance Survey, 70p.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme
HADAS was recently invited by Barnet Education Department to offer instruction and/or assessment to candidates for this Scheme. We accepted with pleasure, and one of our younger Committee members, JOANNA WADE, kindly volunteered to coordinate HADAS’s part in the Scheme. Here she describes what this is all about:
The Scheme, introduced in 1956, has since had over a million entrants. In the words of the information booklet, it “offers young people, both in the UK and in other Commonwealth countries, a challenge of endeavour and achievement through a balanced programme with a wide choice of leisure activities. Those involved are encouraged to develop existing interests or undertake something new.”
What seems particularly admirable about the Scheme to me, however, is that it tries to involve the whole community. The Duke of Edinburgh says:
“This scheme is intended to help both young people and those who take any interest in their welfare. It is designed as an introduction to leisure time activities, a challenge to the individual to personal achievement, and as a guide to those people and organisations concerned about the development of future citizens.”
Within the Scheme are three standards to choose from: bronze, silver and gold, each of increasingly strenuousness. You yourself choose what you are going to do under the broad headings of: service; expeditions; interests; design for living; physical activity. HADAS’s role will lie in the “Interests” section, to give a wider choice of hobby than school or youth club can offer.
I think that the Scheme is indeed very well-balanced, so that by the end you have not only broadened your mind and trained your body but you have also served others. The “Design for Living” part, moreover, (where you have a range of courses from Floral Design to Local Government) prepares you for a less glamourous but equally important side of life.
It is obvious that the actual Award is only a small part of the benefit.
HADAS hopes to help in two ways: firstly, the Borough will be able to refer to us any young people who decide that they would like to include archaeology or local history among the “Interests.” Secondly, perhaps some of our own younger members (we have more than 30 within the Scheme’s age range) may like to take part in the Scheme. If any HADAS member under 25 is interested, you can get more information from LBB Youth Service, Town Hall, Friern Barnet, N11; or if you would like first to get in touch with me, (Joanna) I would be delighted to talk it over with you.
Edgware in History
At the end of August Edgware is having a festival week with music, carnival and other junketings. A HADAS member was asked to write a “potted” history of the area for the official programme. We thought the Newsletter might use it to, in two instalments. This is the first.
The name Edgware is said to come from the Saxon and to mean “Ecgi’s weir or fishing pool.” Who “Ecgi” was is unknown. The name first appears as “aegces wer” in a charter of possible tenth century date.
The extreme northwest of Edgware, however, has a claim to fame well before Saxon times. As HADAS readers will know, archaeological research uncovered the site of an important complex of Roman pottery kilns at Brockley Hill (Roman Sulloniacae) which was active from c. 70-160 AD. The kilns specialised in certain shapes of vessels made from local clay: tazze, flagons for liquids, bowls of various types and mortaria.
These last provide precise evidence of the importance in Roman times of the kiln site in this neck of the Middlesex woods; for Gallic potters working at Brockley Hill stamped their names and the word “fecit” on the rims of the mortaria which were then dispatched all over Roman Britain. Their remains had been found on sites from Scotland to Dorset and Essex to Wales, so at this early date bowls made in Edgware were in daily use in Romano-British kitchens.
Edgware’s story is one mainly of agriculture and communications. Perhaps the most important Roman contribution of all was the great Road which the Saxons called Watling Street and we know as Edgware Road. It shaped the western boundary of Edgware manor and parish and must have been a principle fact of life for Medieval, Tudor and later inhabitants. Edgware village lay strung out along it, from the bridge over the brook to the church, with until quite recent times only outlying farm settlements at Pipers Green and Edgwarebury.
Much of Edgware’s history comes from documents about the road — bills for repair of Edgware Bridge, grants for tolls and pavage and records of the turnpiking of the road in 1711. This was done ostensibly because “the road was almost impossible for six months of the year, being covered in winter 9 in. deep in mud;” but another important factor in the creation of the turnpike may have been that the Duke of Chandos had decided to build his great mansion at Canons, and wanted a good road for the passage of building materials.
Later Edgware history reflects transport improvements: in 1791 one stage and two other coaches passed daily to London and back; by 1839 there were nine coaches to London each weekday, seven carters and one wagon. By 1851 five horse buses ran daily to London. Then the railway took a hand. In 1867 a GNR branch line from Finsbury Park to Edgware opened: two years later it was paying its way. Finally in 1924 Edgware station, terminus of the Hampstead tube (now the Northern) opened.
Population figures show a like growth. In 1277 Edgware had 8 free and 52 customary tenants (i.e. subject to certain feudal duties). In 1547 the parish had 120 communicants; in 1642 the protestations oath was taken by 103 adult males. The first census in 1801 gives a total population of 412. The dramatic change comes with the 20th century: 1901, 868 people; 1961, 20,127.
(To be continued.)