Following the adoption of several changes in our Constitution at the AGM in May, the Charity Commissioners have just confirmed the Society’s status as a Registered Charity.
HADAS on Display
Ancient and modern will come together this month in juxtaposition — under the aegis of HADAS.
The modern is the most up-to-the-minute shopping centre in Britain, at Brent Cross. The ancient are flint tools of c. 6,000 BC, Roman pots of the 1st/2nd centuries AD and medieval finds from late Saxon times onwards.
The authorities at Brent Cross have offered HADAS — and we appreciate their gesture very much — the use, for one week, of a fine large corner site on one of the main avenues of the new Centre, near the area occupied by Messrs. John Lewis. We have accepted with pleasure, and plan to set up an exhibit on the Society’s work. It will include finds from the West Heath dig, from the Brockley Hill Roman Collection and from the Church Terrace dig of two years ago.
Setting up will be done on Sunday 11 July and the exhibit will be on view from 12 July to 17 July. We hope that any members who visit Brent Cross during that time will look in on the HADAS stand; and if you can spare time to help with the stewarding that week, please let committee member June Porges know — she will be happy to hear from all volunteers.
Finchley Carnival – July 8-9-10
HADAS will have a stall at the above Carnival this year. A small exhibit will demonstrate the range of the Society’s activities, but our main effort will be to collect additional funds.
Volunteers to “man” the stall between the hours of 2.00 and 6.00p.m. on the dates above will be most welcome — offers of help, please, to Christine Arnott.
We are hoping to some sale small objects under the banner “Miscellany”. Some have been retained from the March Minimart, but further items will be gratefully received, either by Christine Arnott or Dorothy Newbury.
The June Outing
Report by Bob Pettit.
The June outing, on a beautiful, sunny day, featured two remarkable Sites in Hampshire – Butser Ancient Farm and Portchester Castle.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Portchester can also be spelt as PORCHESTER. Portchester has been used here to keep consistency with early Newsletters and allow consistent searches.
Butser Ancient Farm is situated on a spur to the north of Butser Hill near Petersfield. We approached on foot from the summit of the hill, cooled by a fresh breeze and with its circular thatched roofs and hayricks, the farm looked like a small African native settlement.
Peter Reynolds, the Director of the Project, greeted us and outlined the scientific work of the farm. He explained the development of “experimental archaeology” (see June newsletter) and how that by using evidence from archaeological excavations and fieldwork together with documentary sources, he and his team had set out to recreate and operate an Iron Age farmstead dating approximately to 300 BC. By asking “How does it work?” The team had proved nine out of ten generally accepted hypotheses invalid and had drawn some significant conclusions.
For example, the widespread use of hazel rods in house-making and the construction of animal pens, indicated the coppicing of hazel. This inferred a service industry as well as a producer, which in turn suggested an infrastructure within the society. This meant that instead of subsistence farming, a surplus economy was maintained.
Mr Reynolds explained that sheep were kept in a rotational system of pens, and this method had been shown to improve the quality of the grazing. Recent aerial photography had shown such a high density of Iron Age occupation in Southern England, that the problem now was how to explain the gaps!
We were shown the Soay sheep from St. Kilda, which are the breed closest to the evidence of the type of sheep kept by the Iron Age farmers. With brown fleeces, (which are not clipped but pulled off), this breed of sheep look like goats and can run like deer.
We also saw the plot of typical Iron Age crops – Einkorn, Club Wheat and Woad. Unfortunately, the cattle had been moved from the farm due to lack of grass this year.
We then examined the two dwelling-houses — one with a centre pole (non-functional structurally) and thatched with wheat straw, the other larger, (about 40 ft in diameter and 20 ft high) and thatched with river reeds. The larger hut made a cool auditorium in which to listen to Mr Reynolds’ lucidity. He explained how grain was stored in pits and how his experiments had shown that this method of storage was considerably more successful than modern silos. Mr Reynolds also explained that there were no holes in the hut roofs for the escape of smoke, as the smoke was useful for curing meats and ridding the thatch of insects.
So quickly did the time pass, that we had to leave the farm without seeing a large part of the work. We did, however, make time to visit the farm’s demonstration area beside the A3, established in co-operation with Hampshire’s Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Here similar projects to those on Butser Hill are being carried out. The public can wander round, look at the animals and plants being tended, ask questions, buy explanatory booklets (and woad seeds!) and watch a demonstration of spinning and weaving soay wool using an upright warp-weighted loom.
After a fine tea at the “Vanity Fair” in Fareham (munched to the background of Greek music) we drove on to the coast.
Portchester Castle stands on a low-lying promontory on the North Shore of Portsmouth Harbour. It is immediately impressive with its large Norman keep and Roman Walls still standing to full height.
The Roman Outer walls with 14 of the original 20 bastions, enclose a square of about 600 ft. The two main gates, centrally sited on the East (water) and West (land) sides are Medieval. In the northwest corner are the Norman and Medieval inner bailey and keep, separated from the outer bailey by a moat with water. There is enough standing, with Richard II’s palace and other houses and chambers in various states of decay, to appeal strongly to the imagination and to repay exploration. Plants cling to the walls and give the place a comfortable air.
The keep is about 80 ft high, by 40 ft. square. Inside there are traces of wall paintings and beam decoration, modern wooden flooring and staircase. The walls are pitted with holes where former flooring beams have been sited, particularly during the 1790’s, when the place was crowded with French prisoners of war. One can climb right up to the roof of the keep for a terrific view of the castle and surrounding area.
The outer bailey contains in its south west Corner, one of the finest Romanesque churches in Wessex, dating from 1133. It also has a cricket ground in a reasonable state of repair. So it was the Romans who introduced cricket into England and not the West Indians after all!
Our thanks to Colin and Ann Evans for a pleasurable and instructive day.
July Outing to Castle Rising & King’s Lynn
This is on Saturday 10th July.
CASTLE RISING has the remains of an impressive rectangular stone keep and there have been recent excavations on the site. In the 13th century, King’s Lynn was the third largest seaport in the country. It has a Charter granted by King John, two guildhalls, two market places and merchant houses and churches as relics of its Medieval greatness. Pleasant Georgian houses recall the town’s importance in the 18th century.
Booking form enclosed with this Newsletter – please complete it and send to Dorothy Newbury as soon as possible.
Future Outings – Dates to Remember
Sat Aug 7 – Chedworth Roman villa and Crickley Hill.
Sept 17-19 – inclusive – Weekend at York.
West Heath Site
Latest report from Daphne Lorimer.
Excavations continue at the West Heath site on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10.00a.m.-5.00p.m. Sixteen trenches have been excavated and another five or under excavation now. A large continuous area of the old land surface has been exposed along the top of the southern half of the eroding bank. Plaster casts had been made of six possible post or stake holes. A total of 2462 artefacts have been found, of which it is thought that 58 are known tool types.
Diggers are still urgently required, but members should note that the site will be closed (because of HADAS outings) on Saturday 10 July and Saturday 7 August. Apart from those days, please come along and help whenever you can.
Members of the H.G.S. Institute lecture class on the Mesolithic, which was organised in connection with the dig, visited the Mesolithic collections at the British Museum last month and were able to see comparable assemblages from other sites.
Within the Pale
Liz Sagues, who took part in the opening fortnight of the West Heath dig, sends this digger’s eye view of the lighter side of life in the HADAS trenches:
It’s a strange feeling, working inside a fenced-off part of a public park. The West Heath dog-walking public seemed to think it was a bit odd, too, as they peered over the paling at us. They were always helpful and interested, though often ill-informed. “Someone here before the Romans? Never!” “Are you looking for the Bog People?” “What are you planting?” “How much are the GLC paying you for this?”
Not everyone was happy with our activity. One man angrily questioned the amount of money the Society was spending on the site, and then told Christine Arnott: “Think of all the hungry hundreds and thousands you could feed and clothe instead of wasting your money like this.”
Then there was a lady with heart trouble who threatened to sue the Society if she had a heart attack because she couldn’t rest on her usual seat — access to it was blocked by our fence. But that story had a happy ending. Daphne Lorimer told the park superintendent, and three days later a brand new seat was in position, just outside the fence.
That seat was a problem to, for the blind physiotherapist from Manor House Hospital. “Find seat” she persisted again and again to her guide dog, as he whimpered the edge of the fence — until someone told her there was a newly erected barrier in the way.
Not all the entertainment came from those outside the fence. We made plenty of our own. Trendy “Hampstead Man” and his equally avant-garde wife evolved during one rainy lunch time. we were all crowded inside the polythene tent that kept plans, finds and us dry during the — fortunately rare — rainy spells. Unexpected heights of imagination came to light, as Hampstead Man’s simple hut took on the proportions of a studio and his wife’s furs trailed groundwards, covering sandalled feet.
Then, another lunchtime, name of Brigid Grafton Green’s inspiration for those of us taking diploma or other exams during the dig. “Come digging in the morning”, she suggested, “then set off for the exam in your digging clothes, wearing a HADAS tin hat and with the trowel sticking out of your pocket”. It would have been ego-boosting, and shattering to the other exam candidates, but I don’t think one of us was brazen enough to try it.
John Cundy found a dinosaur (well, it look like to dinosaur even if it was only a tree root) and he and Philip Venning got incredibly muddy down the peat sampling hole. Other people’s discomfort is always good for a laugh.
We all had our share of red faces, as perfect little (and sometimes not so little) tools emerged in the sieve, while all too often just as Desmond Collins walked past. And the contortions of diggers measuring the depths of their finds — heads down, bottoms up, just like the ducks on the nearby pond — must have seemed ridiculous to any uninitiated watcher.
We laughed in turn at the television crew — the puffing, perspiring cameraman, the only one who seemed to do any real work, as he lugged his apparatus round at the beck and call of the mighty team of producers, directors, assistants, interviewers and miscellaneous hangers-on; and at the gullible reporter who swallowed, and repeated in print, the story about the ice-cap of the last glaciation being stopped at Henly’s Corner by the traffic lights!
It was a very happy site, even if the goats were rather aggressively friendly, and the swan decidedly noisy. And as well as being fun, it was distinctly rewarding to take part in a dig that is going to add quite a lot to existing knowledge of London’s earlier inhabitants.
All members who have not yet paid their subscriptions for the current year — the treasurer reminds you that these were due on 1 April. Subscription rates are:
Full membership – £1.00
Under 18 – 65p
Senior Citizen – 75p
Please send them as soon as possible to the Treasurer, Jeremy Clynes.
Tramway Poles – Industrial Archaeology
In various parts of London, the poles which carried the overhead wires for trams have been retained as street lighting standards. They can be recognised by their greater diameter and lack of ornamentation compared with the purpose-designed metal lamp standard. There are a number at Golders Green Crossroads. Does anyone know of others in the borough? Many Poles actually date only from the change to trolley buses, when the older polls were replaced, possibly to carry the heavier load of double wires. Anyone with information, please contact Bill Firth.
Welcome to New Members
New members crowd into HADAS thick and fast; moreover, they come from far and wide. Last paragraph of welcome was in April, only three newsletters ago. Already 51 stalwarts have joined us — we wish them well, and hope they will enjoyed being members. They are:
R.F.Allen, Hampstead; John Anderson, N17; Michael Aronsohn, Hampstead; Mrs. A.T. Baker, Hampstead; David Becker, Golders Green; Claire Bunting, N10; I. Chaikin, Hampstead; Desmond Collins, Hampstead; Paul Craddock, Garden Suburb; John Cundy, Harrow Weald; Mrs. Czarniecka and Peter Czarniecki, Cricklewood; A. Domb, Garden Suburb; Nicole Douek, Garden Suburb; John Fahy, Harrow Weald; Mr. And Mrs. Finer, Edgware; Madeleine French, Putney; Laurie Gevell, Kenton; Mavis Hammond, Totteridge; Ailsa Hoblyn, Garden Suburb; Mrs. E.M. Holliday, NW9; Caroline Hurst, Garden Suburb; Mary Knott, Putney; Dorothy Kushler, NW2; Betty Law, Cricklewood; Ruth Levenburgh, West Hampstead; J.M. Lewis, Finchley; Josephine Luce, Garden Suburb; Margaret Haher, Kenton; Mrs. Jean Nauert, Columbia, Missouri, USA; Mrs. Newman, Hampstead; Mrs. P.M. Pickett, Friern Barnet; Dr. Joyce Roberts, NW6; Mrs. M. Roswell, Mill Hill; Mr & Mrs Sagues, Pinner; Miss M. Saunders, W11; Derek Shaw, Enfield; Marjorie Stewart, NW5; Mr & Mrs Thompson, Hampstead; P.C. Townsend, NW9; Mr & Mrs Vause, East Barnet; Philip Venning, Garden Suburb; Peter Wagstaff, Pinner; Elizabeth Wallwork, SW14; Christopher Williams, Grahame Park; G. I. Williams, North Finchley; Stanley Williams, Golders Green.