Newsletter 125 July 1981
A FUTURE FOR ARCHAEOLOGY – OR NOT?
When you live for some time with a crisis, it becomes familiar: you almost forget that it’s there. That is why we ought, perhaps, to remind ourselves occasionally that there is a considerable and continuing crisis in archaeology the danger of losing the raw material of which archaeology is made.
This quotation from Dr.Peter Fowler, in course of a recent review in the journal Popular Archaeology, puts the matter in a nutshell:
“Perhaps it would help if I just state bluntly that most of the archaeological remains in England are already destroyed or damaged and that much of that which survives is, like many natural resources, under serious threat of extinction. I for one fear that by next century not only will there be little left to see but also that much research into improving our understanding of our past will have to be by desk-studies based on records already made rather than by new work on the primary evidence in the field. It will simply not be there. We are all scared stiff about our oil reserves running out by the end of the century, yet oil is by no means the only natural resource of a finite nature. The visible past is on a time fuse, too”.
Dr.Fowler -.HADAS members who went on our weekend to Bristol some years ago, will remember how well he conducted that trip – is in a position to know precisely what he is talking about. He is now the Secretary of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments for England.
OUTING TO KENT Report by: Elizabeth Sanderson
Our first stop on the second HADAS outing of the year was at Blackheath where we met Dr.Paul Craddock, a prehistorian at the British Museum. He showed us the remains of a Saxon Cemetery, something which used to be most common but, due to ploughing or excavation, mainly in the late 18th century, is now a rarity. The burial mounds are small circles about 2 metres across with a small ditch, usually containing only one inhumation.
Our second stop was at the famous and most important site of Swanscombe where the ¼ million year old skull of a ‘palaeolithic person’ was found in the company of over 1000 hand axes. The site is something of a surprise on one’s first visit being a rubbish tip surrounded by a barbed wire fence. The area is comprised of gravels and loam of the Thames’ 100ft. terrace which was formed when rivers and sea level rose at the end of the Hoxnian interglacial. Mr. Marsden, a dentist, as a result of publicity over the fraudulent “Piltdown Man’, decided human remains should be sought at Swanscombe and he found the occiput and left parietal bones of a skull. In 1955 John Wymer found the other parietal which neatly fitted the other parts. On the lower gravel, the remains of 40 individual animals including bos, elephant, deer and cave bear were found in association with Clactonian flakes. It has been assumed that man deposited the carcasses there not too far from his camp site after hunting or scavenging for the food. In the higherlevels Acheulian hand axes were found, tools which did not occur in the lower gravel. The site, then, had a long period of occupation although not necessarily continuous. Dr.Craddock has recently found stone tools there and HADAS members needed no encouragement to add to their own collections:
Our next port of call was Lullingstone Roman Villa which was probably built as a modest farmhouse dating from c.43 AD. The first house of durable materials, with flint and mortar walls, was built about AD 80-90. In the 2nd century AD the villa was extended by its prosperous owners who probably had Roman antecedents judging by the pottery, coins and portraits remaining. Unfortunately they seem to have had to make a “moonlight flit” from the villa about 200 AD, perhaps due to the political upheavals. The house was re-occupied in the second half of the 3rd century after possibly serving as a tannery. Finally, Romanised Britons lived there till its destruction by fire in the 5th century. A mausoleum had been built in the meantime and mosaic tiles with mythological scenes set into a semi-circular dining room floor. Later the site became Christian as indicated by painting on plaster showing praying figures and the Chi Rho sign. We were greatly indebted to Harry Lawrence, a long-standing HADAS member, who was able to regale us with details from his own first hand experiences digging the site.
We made a short visit to Kit’s Coty House, a neolithic megalithic monument of the Medway group. The remaining sarcens are from the central part of the earth covered tomb, which may have been of the Severn-Cotswold type. The tomb was regularly used from its erection until the Bronze Age.
The party split at Rochester and took turns to visit Dr.Craddock’s home, where Mrs. Craddock very kindly provided a splendid tea and also Rochester . Castle and Cathedral. Rochester was probably an Iron Age settlement sited at a main river crossing where the Romans built a town of which some walls still remain. The early castle which comprised a central keep was built by Gundolf in the 11th century. In the 12th century a forebuilding was added of 3 stories, the top one of which was the chapel. The belief was held at the time, that fighting should not take place over a religious area and so a pitched roof was added to the forebuilding. In 1216 the castle was besieged and although a corner tower was undermined and fell away, the remaining half of the keep held and its occupants were undaunted and refused to surrender. The attackers, not relishing another mining operation, negotiated a truce. The nave and westerly part of Rochester Cathedral were built in the 12th century whilst the remainder dates from the 13th century. Of an early Saxon church, built by King Ethelbert in 604 AD, little remains. This final visit rounded off a fascinating day for which we have to be most grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Craddock. We were also very lucky to have beautiful warm sunshine all day.
SUMMER DAYS ARE HERE AT LAST and a full coach-load enjoyed the outing to Rochester in June – let’s hope the next outing will be as successful on Saturday, July 18 to the Temple Precinct Excavations at the Roman Baths Museum, Bath and to Lacock Abbey and village.
If you would like to join this outing, please complete the enclosed application form and send, with cheque, to Dorothy Newbury at once.
Saturday, August 15 Piddington Roman Villa (dig in progress); Iron Age Hunsbury Hill, Abington Park Museum, Museum of Leathercraft in Northampton.
VISIT TO ROYAL AIR FORCE HENDON
A visit has been arranged to tour the historic buildings at RAF Hendon on Saturday, 25th July.
There may be a restriction on numbers so, the tour will be filled on a first come first served basis and, since the RAF must know numbers in advance, the list will close on Wednesday, 15th July. Please let Bill Firth, 49 Woodstock Avenue, NW11 (Tel. 455 7164) know if you wish to join.
Restricted photography will be permitted but there is a security area in the middle of the tour area and all members are asked to abide by the rulings of the RAF personnel about photography at all times.
In an emergency the tour may be cancelled without notice or curtailed while it is in progress.
Those coming should meet at the Guardroom on the North side of the roundabout at the Colindale Avenue/Aerodrome Road/Grahame Park Way junction not later than 2.25 p.m. on Saturday, 25th July. In RAF parlance the tour starts at 1430 hours.
For background members are referred to Newsletter 112, June 1980 and 116 October 1980.
FLOWER LANE LECTURES: PRELIMINARY NOTICE
Members are reminded that once again HADAS is providing a course of elementary lectures on archaeology at Flower Lane Adult Education Centre, Mill Hill next autumn. Term starts on Monday, 21st September.
Early enrolment (without much queuing) on Wednesday, 1st July 6.00 – 8.00 p.m. at Flower Lane or Thursday, 2nd July 10.30 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. and 6.00 8.00 p.m. at Montague Road, West Hendon (off Station Road).
The lectures are divided into two parts – those before Christmas form a basic course and those after Christmas cover particular aspects of archaeology.
New members may find these lectures of particular interest. Further details will be given in the August Newsletter.
ROMAN WINDFALL FOR HADAS LIBRARY
Before Desmond Collins vanished to his new habitat in the West Country, he kindly bequeathed to the HADAS Library copies of a number of papers, on finds at Brockley Hill, as well as some material on St.Albans and Highgate Wood.
The Society is delighted by this acquisition and would like to take this chance of recording its thanks to Desmond for his kind thought. The material includes:
The North Middlesex Archaeological Research Committee “The Roman Settlement on Brockley Hill (Sulloniacae) A brief account and an appeal’
Trans. LMAS New series X part 1 (1943) K. M. Richardson “Report on the Excavations at Brockley Hill, Middx” 1947 & 1937
Trans. LMAS New series X part III (1951) S.Applebaum 1950
Trans. LMAS New Series XI part II (1953) P. G. Suggett 1951
(2 copies) Trans. LAMAS New series XI part III (1954) P.G.Suggett 1952 3 1953.
Trans. LMAS 18 part 1 (1955) P G Suggett “The Moxom Collection”
Trans. HADAS 19 part 1 (1956) P.G.Suggett “Excavations at Brockley Hill 1953 and 1954”
Stanmore, Edgware and Harrow Historical Society, 1957 “A Short History of Edgware and the Stanmores in the Middle Ages”
Verulamium Museum Publications No.3 – Plan of Verulamium – Reprinted from Antiquity. June 1941
Verulamium Excavation Committee First Interim Report 1955 by S.S. Frere from Antiq. J. XXXV1 (1956) No.1,2
London Arch. Spring 1969 A.E.Brown & H.L.Sheldon. Excavations in Highgate Wood. 1966 – 1968 Part 1.
MORE NEWS FROM ROMANISTS
Next meeting of the Roman Group will be on. Tuesday, July 14 at 94 Hillside Gardens, Edgware, by kind invitation of Tessa Smith.
Time: 8.00 p.m. Welcome: all members who are interested in Roman Archaeology. We shall be delighted to add new members to the Group.
CEDARS CLOSE DIG A note from Percy Reboul
Backfilling has started on the trench excavated last year – details of which appeared in the recent ‘Pinning Down the Past’ exhibition.
Because of pressure of other work, it will unfortunately not be possible to extend the excavation during 1981 but it is hoped that Mr. & Mrs. Miller might be prepared for HADAS to investigate further sometime in the future: hopefully 1982.
I would like to place on record my gratitude to the Millers for their kindness and keen, active interest in the work – which can only be done at some inconvenience to their household. More than this, Mr. Miller has come up with an excellent idea that might be capable of further development on other digs. He has decided to put up, in the hallway of his house, a ‘display’ of photographs, maps, exhibits etc., associated with the dig. This will be a permanent reminder to him and his family of the past. I am certain, too, it will prove to be a marvellous ‘talking point’ when visitors come to the house.
Best wishes and congratulations to Mrs. Joanna Gorden on the birth of a son, a brother for. Gregory.
COME FOR A WALK, BACK INTO THE MID-NINETEEN TWENTIES with DAVID ST GEORGE
who takes a round trip, in childhood memory, from Temple Fortune through Golders Green, Clitterhouse, Hendon, part of Hampstead Garden Suburb and back again to Temple Fortune.
We go up Hendon Park Row, from where women used to walk (not all that long ago) across the fields to Camden Town to do their shopping and bring it home in a sack; we come to Finchley Road, and turn left, past tall houses with steps up to their front doors, set back from the road, and come to the stables beside the Royal Oak pub in Temple Fortune. Turning left into Bridge Lane we see a field on the right, edged by hawthorn trees, with the Ebenezer Hall just past it. Turn left into Leeside Crescent, and right into Cranborne Gardens, and here is “the church in the fields” with its corrugated iron roof (now the Church of St.Barnabas). There is a large woodshed on the left, on the corner of Grosvenor Gardens.
Turn out of this road into Eastville Avenue, and we come to Leeside Crescent again. Turning right, there is another woodshed on the left by a passage into Wentworth Road. Continuing down Leeside Crescent, we come to another passage which we follow down to a stream (Decoy Brook), full of water beetles and other pond life. Walking up Highfield Road we come to Howard Farrow’s engineering works, next to a large timber yard.
We now turn right into Golders Green Road and a little way down is Sucklings, where we can see horse shoes being made and fitted while a boy pumps at the bellows to keep the fire going. Off across the fields to Clitterhouse Farm and the sewage works, where sprinklers can be seen going round. Turning north up the lane there is a small hospital on the left. This is Hendon Cottage Hospital, a very important place for the whole district.
On up the hill to the Burroughs Pond with its muddy banks and nearby horse trough. Turning right we see a little sweetshop where a sherbet dab can be bought for id with a pencil given free: Further on is the “new” Town Half (built 1900 but it still seems new:), with Ravensfield College nearly opposite. In the near distance is another farm on the corner of Greyhound Hill, and walking down the hill we come to Hendon Aerodrome.
Turning left into Bunns Lane we walk across the fields again to Ashley Lane, where a tramp called Dirty Dick is reputed to live there is certainly a shelter under the hedge, with a well-swept “drive” up to his “front door”. Climbing the hill up Parson Street to the Bell there is another horse trough and, not so long ago, a set of stocks for miscreants.
Going down Bell Lane we come to a narrow hump-backed bridge by Decoy Farm, where sheep and pigs are wandering around. Turning east across the fields again we come to watercress beds in a dip of Finchley Road down to the river (Mutton Brook).
Straight on along Addison Way we see a narrow-gauge railway being constructed (about where Brookland Rise is now) to carry building materials for new houses still being erected in the northeast of the Garden Suburb. At the end of Addison Way is Kemp’s general store, the only shop for nearly a mile.
Keeping to the gravel paths (really crushed clinker, tamped down) with their wooden kerbs flanking the pot-holed and often very muddy roads, we walk down to Finchley Road again through Child’s Way with its small school next to the church hall of St.Jude. We can now turn left across the fields to the formal gardens where red admiral and peacock butterflies feed on the sedum in lovely mauve blossom.
Opposite is the Post Office counter in the back of Shutlers store.
Calling in at Tozer & Smiths for a comic, we walk down past the surgery of Drs. Titmus, Whitelaw and Henderson, to Farr’s cake shop, and buy a sticky bun or two for ½d each.
INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CENTRE FOR INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY
HADAS has always had a soft spot for the work of the Ironbridge Gorge Trust since we took our first-ever long weekend trip in 1974 to Ironbridge, Coalbrookdale and Blists Hill Open Air Museum. Since then many attractions have been added to Ironbridge. The latest, expected to open in full glory in about two years’ time, but already operating in a modified way from temporary premises, is a complete research centre for documents of every type dealing with industrial archaeology.
The basic raw material of this centre, which will be of international importance, is the collection left by Sir Arthur Elton when he died in 1972. This was accepted by the Treasury in lieu of death duties. In 1973 it was decided that the Elton Collection should be put in the care of the Telford Development Corporation and administered by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.
The Elton Collection contains about 4000 books and pamphlets, 2000 paintings, drawings and prints and several hundred commemorative objects such as medallions, tokens, etc. Here is a recent description of some of its goodies:
“A whole run of Mechanic’s Magazine from 1323-1850, two volumes of An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences of 1708, the first 3 volume edition of 1774 of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ree’s Encyclopaedia of 1819 in 39 volumes of text and six volumes of plates… Rawlinson on early factory chimneys… Rolt on tools for the job… Stuart on the steam engine… perfect specimens of … Bury’s London and Birmingham Railway and his Liverpool and Manchester Railway of 1833 … Bourne’s famous Great Western Railway of 1848… the volume Reports by the Juries of the Great Exhibition of 1852 containing photographs by Fox Talbot, of which only 15 copies were printed…
“Elton’s particular passion was railway material produced before 1840 and the collection is therefore rich in that … it is also comprehensive on bridges, mining, tunnels and the Crystal Palace. Some areas, however, are more thinly represented, such as textile mills and machinery, shipping and waterways. These will be extended by new purchases.
“Rare things are to be found the original sketch for Frith’s “The Railway Station” (in fact, Paddington)… Owen Jones’s unsuccessful designs for St.Pancras Station Hotel…a set of photographs of the Forth Railway Bridge under construction…forty song-sheets, including ‘There’s Danger on the Line’ …and a rare quart-size frog mug of 1830, decorated with a scene on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, as well as a ceramic coffee machine in the form of a steam locomotive.”
At present the collection is housed at the Trust’s offices, but an old brick warehouse beside the Iron Museum at Coalbrookdale is being adapted for it. When ready there will be reading, archive and research rooms. The collection is already providing material for local exhibitions – notably at Rosehill House (once owned by the Darbys) in Coalbrookdale and it is hoped to have on general sale many of the plans and pictures, both as prints and postcards.