West Heath in Training
By Daphne Lorimer.
HADAS celebrated the Queen’s Silver Jubilee as a working archaeological society might expect to — by digging. The second West Heath fortnight of 1977 — on the lower, or Leg of Mutton site — had started three days before, on 4 June. We did, however, mark the Queen’s anniversary with a special ceremony. Diggers downed trowels at 12.00p.m. on 7 June and cracked some bottles of Italian champagne, one of which had been awarded to the West Heath entry in the recent Rescue Archaeology competition.
Mr Peter Challon, Superintendent for the GLC of Golders Hill Park and West Heath, who has helped HADAS immensely in countless ways, joined us for the celebration. Together we toasted Her Majesty and sang (waveringly, and in several keys,) God Save the Queen. Then we returned to the trenches in a warm glow of patriotism and Asti Spumante.
Before the dig began our Hon. Surveyor, Barrie Martin, had fixed datum points on two trees at 100 m and 99 m above Ordnance Survey sea level. From these, three datum points (all at 99 m) were set up on the site for diggers to use in plotting the depths of their finds.
From June 6-18 HADAS, under the careful and invigorating direction of Desmond Collins, ran its first training excavation, recognised by London University as suitable required training for the external Diploma in Archaeology. The course was fully booked from an early date; ten students each week braved the rigours of the English summer with cheerful disregard, amid showers and ice northeast winds, for their personal comfort. They appeared to enjoy themselves considerably in so doing, and it was a very happy fortnight for HADAS members involved in their training.
Thanks to the kindness of HADAS member June Porges and her husband, a tent was made available for the comfort of the class during talks. On days when our experienced camper-members were absent, it provided a great source of hilarity during its erection. Had the weather been kinder, we understand that the whole perilous process would have been immortalised on cine-film.
Talks in the tent — and on the site — covered such subjects as flint recognition, what to look out for in the way of palaeobotanical evidence, the importance of burnt material (both charcoal and stone), postholes and how to recognise, excavate and cast them, section drawing, recording of finds in the trenches and follow-up processing after excavation. Students visited the upper site and were shown what work had been down there and told what results might be hoped for.
Mention of the tent leads me on to another structure which has made its appearance this year at the West Heath site. It, too, has made a great difference to the comfort of HADAS’s life at Hampstead. It is the brain-child of Dave King who, with ingenuity and considerable generosity both of time and materials, has equipped us with a handsome and completely collapsible site hut. Made of timber, corrugated perspex and plastic sheeting, it provides perfect conditions for find-processing (no more chasing little plastic bags around the site in a gale, as we had so often to do last year); held together by nuts and bolts, it can be erected and taken down in ten minutes once you get the hang of it.
And this is not the end of Dave’s sterling work on the site. He has provided us with a second of sieve (with very beneficial effect on HADAS tempers); and has also perfected a new “bivouac” for the dry storage of equipment. Now that we are so well-equipped to withstand the rain, we fully expect the sun to start shining every day!
Ten new trenches have now been opened at West Heath, of which seven are arranged in the usual chequer board pattern to the northeast of the area we excavated last year. Two others continue the investigation of the area around the trees on the southern side of the site; and one trial trench has been opened by the south east fence.
The main area is proving a rich source of man-struck flints and, although it is early to draw conclusions, does appear to be producing a particularly large number of retouched pieces including broken points (which may be broken arrow tips) and blades and flakes showing signs of utilisation as scrapers — a rarity last year. A considerable amount of burnt material has also been recovered but this is, perhaps, too near the surface to be of great significance at this stage.
Future Digging Plans
Digging will now continue on Wednesdays and weekends with the exception of Saturday 16 July — the date of the Grimes Graves outing.
In response to requests from a number of members who want a further full-time dig, the excavation will be open for the whole of July — from Saturday 23 July to Sunday 31st inclusive.
The dig will close for the whole August, but will re-start for Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 3 September – 2 October, with the exception of the Bristol weekend, September 24-25. Should the autumn be particularly fine, digging might continue a little longer.
DO COME AND DIG. We appear to have reached a very rich area and need as many diggers as can wield a trowel. Christine Arnott also needs find processors and will be very grateful for anyone willing to do a stint at the “executive table.”
Since we last broached the matter — which was only in May — the Society has enrolled a further 38 members, so it is again time to welcome these fresh additions to the HADAS ranks. We hope all those who have joined us in the last two months will enjoy their membership. They include a number of students from the West Heath training dig; and also a Finchley school, which has taken out the Society’s special schools membership:
Mrs. Elizabeth Aldridge, Highgate; Mrs. Mary Barnett, N2; Bishop Douglas School, Finchley; Miles Blencowe, Hampstead; C.E. Bowden, N2; Mrs. Debbie Bradshaw, Hampstead; Mrs. E.J. Brown, Finchley; Mrs. Grace Clark, Islington; Mrs. June Davies, North Finchley; Miss Rose Edgcumbe, Hampstead; Miss Vi Field, SE1; Miss Frances Goodman, Temple Fortune; Mr. & Mrs. Harmes, Hampstead; Colin Hughes, Finchley; Simon Joyce, Hampstead; Ivan Knowlson, Mill Hill; Miss Rosa Leon, Garden Suburb; Miss Frances Lewis, Kenton; Mrs. Theresa McDonald, Maida Vale; Mrs. Merle Mindel, Berkshire; Mr. J. Minnitt, Borehamwood; Mr. W. Noble, Hornsey; Ms O’Connor, New Southgate; Miss Margaret Phillips, W13; Samuel Pozner, Golders Green; Mrs. M.A. Proffer, Hampstead; Miss C. Salisse, Garden Suburb; Mrs. E. Sharpley, Finchley; Mrs. Peggy Slade, Garden Suburb; Mr. & Mrs. Tessler, North Finchley; Mike Watkins, SW18; Mr. & Mrs. White, Maida Vale; Bronwyn Williams, N5; Anne Young, Edgware; and Miss Xenia Zurawska, Golders Green.
The Next Outing
… on Saturday 16 July, will be to the Neolithic Flint Mines at Grimes Graves where, after showing us the one shaft still left open, the custodian, Mr Lord, will demonstrate flint-knapping and pressure flaking. Next stop will be the new country park at West Stow (not yet open to the general public), where an Anglo-Saxon village is in course of reconstruction following excavation; and then the ancient city of Bury St. Edmunds, for a taste of monastic medievalism.
To round off the day two HADAS members, Mr. And Mrs. Bergman, have kindly invited the Society to take tea with them in their cottage in a Suffolk Village some miles south of Bury — the first time we had been entertained in this way by a member.
An application form for the outing is enclosed. Please complete and return, with remittance, to Dorothy Newbury as soon as possible.
Saturday 13 August. Trip to Avebury, Silbury and Swindon.
Weekend at Bristol, September, 23-25. The coach for this is fully booked, but don’t let that stop you putting your name on Dorothy Newbury’s waiting list, in case there are cancellations.
Full details of Bristol with the August Newsletter — but to whet your appetite, guides on the trip will include, in the Mendips, Peter Fowler of Bristol University (well-known to many HADAS members) and, in South Wales, Dr Manning of Cardiff University.
Have you paid your Subscription yet?
The Hon. Treasurer would like to remind members that their subscriptions for the current year were due on 1 April last. As yet he has received renewal was from only 50 per cent of members. If you are among the “other half,” he would like to hear from you as soon as possible — sending out individual reminders, in these days of high postage, is an expensive business.
The current subscription rates are:
Full membership – £2.00
Under-18 – £1.00
Over-60 – £1.00
Family Membership: – first member – £2
– additional members £1 each
Subscriptions should be sent to Jeremy Clynes.
An Outing for All Tastes
Phyl Dobbins reports on the HADAS June outing into Northamptonshire.
In spite of the wintry weather a full coach sped up the M1 to our first stop at Hardingstone on the outskirts of Northampton. The Briar Hill site was earmarked for housing by Northampton Development Corporation, but indications of ditches, first noticed in crop marks in 1972, led to the commissioning of a magnetometer survey by the Department of Environment. Bearing in mind that the underlying rock is ironstone, a surprising amount of accurate detail was revealed by the survey. After mechanical removal of 9 in. of topsoil from the 8 acre site, a rescue dig began under the direction of Dr Helen Bamford.
Cross sections and longitudinal sections of the two deep outer ditches, and a shallower spiral ditch inside the enclosure, confirm that the site is a Neolithic causewayed camp. Flints and fragmented pottery have also been found in the ditches and in deep pits. Careful study of the sections shows that the ditches were re-cut at least three or four times, indicating that the site was probably occupied intermittently from the early to late Neolithic times. Because of the acidity of the sandy soil and rock, organic material has not survived except for a very few animal bones and one cremation burial in the outer ditch.
Traces of Iron Age buildings have also been found (the site is near the Iron Age camp of Hunsbury Hill) together with two early Saxon grubenhäusen (sunken buildings with large posts at each end).
As the housing project has been in delayed for financial reasons, the dig continues.
After exposure to the icy winds blowing up the Nene valley we were glad of the comfort of the Boat Inn on the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Brewerne. Later we crossed the canal to visit the Waterways Museum housed in a converted granary. This contains a full history in models, pictures and objects, of canal building, the boats, and the people who worked the boats.
The canal here is crossed by a fine double arched bridge (c. 1800) and has a flight of locks to raise boats for the traverse to the two-mile long Blixworth Tunnell. There is no towpath through the tunnel, so in the past the boats were worked by “leggers.” Two men lay on boards projecting from the sides of the boats, are pushing them along with their feet against the side walls of the tunnel.
Our final visit was to Castle Ashby House, the home of the Compton family. The present building was started in 1574 by the first Lord Compton, later Earl of Northampton, with a later addition c. 1630 attributed to Indigo Jones. On arrival we were greeted by the roar of cannon and the sound of gunfire — the Sealed Knot Society was rehearsing the battle of Naseby, to be re-fought in the Park the following day.
In a conducted tour of the house, which is still lived in, we were shown many fine rooms furnished with items ranging from Chinese Coromandel screens and cabinets to Venetian and English pieces of 17th/19th century, including work by Chippendale and Sheraton, and an Adam fireplace. There were also tapestries, 16th/17th century, from Brussels and Mortlake, and fine examples of wood carving, glass and china.
However, even a without all these the house would be worth visiting for its collection of paintings alone. The majority are portraits of the family by such artists as a Van Dyke, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Kneller, Lawrench, Raeburn and Hoppner, and there is also a famous portrait of Mary Tudor by Antonio Moro. The best works are from the Italian Renaissance, Mantegna’s “Adoration of the Wise Men,” Bellini’s “Virgin and child,” among them. Also of interest is a pair of carved walnut bellows inscribed with the name of Benvenuto Cellini.
An unexpected archaeological bonus is the very fine collection of Greek vases, mainly red and black figure ware.
After an excellent tea in the converted Elizabethan kitchen decorated with antique copper utensils, we return to London, congratulating Liz Holliday on a very well-organised day spent travelling through time.
Index to the HADAS Newsletters
In addition to their archaeological know-how, many members possess other skills. It is one of the pleasantest traits of HADAS that so many of its members are prepared to spend their knowledge and craft in the Society’s service.
One example of this kind of help was provided recently by committee member Freda Wilkinson, who is by profession an indexer. Earlier this year she produced a detailed 55-page index of the HADAS newsletter from No.1 to No. 70 (October 1969-December 1976). This is a highly skilled, well produced piece of work, which will be most helpful to the Society’s officers and will increase the Newsletter’s value considerably as a work of reference by making the information it contains quickly accessible.
It so happens that the circulation of Newsletter is not confined to HADAS members only. Some 25 or so complimentary copies go to neighbouring societies, libraries, museums, etc. We asked three of these bodies — the GLC library, the Camden Local History Library and Barnet Libraries, — if they would like copies of Mrs. Wilkinson’s index, at a cost of £3. All enthusiastically accepted.
This response was so immediate that the Committee decided to publicise the existence of the index further, and to invite any member, or anyone who normally receives a complimentary copy, to let the Hon. Secretary know if they too would like to buy a photo-copy of the index at £3 (including postage).
“Lost” Station in New Southgate
By Bill Firth.
In 1853 the Great Northern London Cemetery Company was constituted by Act of 18 and 19 Vic, cap. 159, to establish a burial ground at Colney Hatch (now better known as New Southgate) and 150 acres of land were required. In 1859 the cemetery company entered into an agreement under which the railway company provided two stations for the use of the cemetery company, one at Maiden Lane, Kings Cross, on railway land, the other on the cemetery land at New Southgate. The railway also agreed to run trains between the two stations for the conveyance or coffins and mourners.
The King’s Cross station, where the main building was still standing in 1954, although in a dilapidated condition, was just north and east of the northern end of the Gas Works Tunnel (the first tunnel of out of Kings Cross) with a road approach from Rufford Street; a high wall and gate prevented viewing of the building from this angle. This station included a mortuary.
The station at Colney Hatch was alongside the cemetery. The line branched off the main GNR Line at New Southgate station and ran parallel to the main line until it had passed the road overbridge (Oakley Road South) where it veered away somewhat, terminating about 400 yards south of the mouth of Barnet tunnel. There was a platform on the east side and a run-round the loop. The station buildings were elaborate, with waiting rooms, a C of E Church and a chapel for Dissenters. The church had a spire of some 150 feet and was in existence at the turn-of-the-century.
Some time between 1867 and 1873 the arrangements ceased and the station was closed. In 1876 the cemetery company obtained an Act authorising alternative use of the land on which the station was built. The Act stated that the traffic between the two stations did not justify upkeep of the works. The land is now occupied by the works of Standard Telephones and Cables, and it appears that all trace of the station has now disappeared. The signal box, Cemetery Up, situated at the north end of the STC buildings on the east side of the railway, was demolished about two years ago, as a preliminary to electrification of the main railway line.
Reference: The Railway Magazine, 19 October ’54.
Local Pamphlets for your Reading List
Camden History Review 4, published last autumn by Camden History Society, 75p, copies by post (add £0.15). Available in the HADAS book box. Mainly about Georgian Camden, but something on Stuart and Victorian Camden also.
Hendon As It Was – vol. 2. Many members will know the “As It Was” photo-books edited by HADAS member Clive Smith. The series, which covers also Mill Hill, Harrow, Golders Green and Finchley, was extended last autumn by a further volume on Hendon. Full, as always, of pictures fascinating in a detailed, often of places now changed beyond recognition. Price £0.75, from the editor.
Memories of Hornsey, by Edwin Monk, published last year by the Hornsey Historical Society (whose publications, including their Quarterly Bulletin, always delight the eye), £0.95 (has £0.20 postage). The first in a series of Occasional Papers, profusely and attractively illustrated.
Pinner Streets, Yesterday and Today, by Elizabeth Cooper, published last November by Pinner and Hatch End Local Historical and Archaeological Society, 70p. A series of well conducted at street surveys, finely illustrated.
And of course we can’t close without reminding you of our own Society’s Victorian Jubilees, published last month at £0.50 (£0.15 postage), obtainable now from our Hon. Treasurer. It has had excellent reviews in the local press and has been described as the best £0.50 worth of Jubilee souvenir that you are likely to obtainable.
Got your copy yet?