Newsletter No. 154: December, 1983
TRAILER FOR WEST HEATH, 1984
Roll up, roll up and book your summer holiday now, folks! WEST HEATH Mesolithic excavation will re-open for a limited season of 6-7 weeks on June 16, 1984. Digging will continue seven days a week to accommodate all volunteers, so please mark the date in your diary whether you are a mid-week or a week-end digger – or both!
Attractions include lakeside setting, rustic scenery and invigorating air; amenities include zoo, cafe, loos and weekly band concerts.
Lots of lovely HADAS people, too – and the site’s not bad, either!
Old (and new) friends very welcome and your call is eagerly awaited. You don’t have to make a definite commitment now, but a call will assure you of a place on the ‘Interested’ list, and we will contact you later to finalise details. People prepared to answer questions from the public about the excavation and the work of the society are especially needed either on an occasional or a regular basis.
Please ring Margaret Maher (907 0333) or Sheila Woodward (952 3897)
Tues Dec 6 Dinner at Whitbreads Brewery, Chiswell Street, EC1. If you have arranged to join this Christmas outing, please note that your ticket and an information sheet, with details of the coach, etc, are enclosed with this Newsletter.
Programme for 1984. We have been notified that the library will be closed on the first Tuesday of January. Therefore our first lecture will take place on second Tuesday, which is:
Tues Jan 10 Reconstruction of Anglo-Saxon buildings at West Stowe, nr. Bury St Edmunds by Richard Darrah
Tues Feb 7 The HADAS excavation at Church End, Hendon, 1973-74 by Ted Sammes
Tues Mar 6 Twenty-five years of excavation in Wiltshire by John Musty
Tues Apr 3 Under Water Archaeology today by Alexander Flinder
Tues May 15th Annual General meeting
TAILPIECE TO THE SUMMER PROGRAMME
If you went on the HADAS outing into Gloucestershire last July you are not likely to have forgotten the reproduction of the huge Woodchester Roman mosaic, with its million and a half tesserae, which we saw displayed in a redundant non-conformist tabernacle.
So you will be interested to know that this 2,300 sq ft replica, built by local farmers Bob and John Woodward, is now being moved to the Unitarian Church in Lewins Mead, Bristol, where it will be possible for more people to see it,
THE HADLEY WOOD DIG …..Brian Wrigley asks us to say… has now closed
The interim report in the October Newsletter stated that it was hoped “to dig rapidly a second trial trench,” mainly to confirm the profile of the first trench. Unfortunately, however, this did not prove possible. “The time and opportunity just didn’t offer,” says Brian.
He is working now on a final report sections, etc, and hopes to publish this in the Newsletter in due course.
BRITONS AND ROMANS IN HERTFORDSHIRE A report on the November lecture by SHEILA WOODWARD
Tony Rook is an old friend of HADAS. We expected his talk to be a blend of entertainment and instruction, and we were not disappointed. In a lively lecture he gave us an account of the widespread evidence of Roman and Belgic occupation in the Welwyn area and his methods of locating and dealing with sites.
The famous Roman bathhouse at Welwyn came to light as a result of a field walk during which pieces of Roman tile were noticed protruding from the bank of the River Nimram. The problems of the ensuing excavation were vividly described. A training dig for new recruits was hastily converted to a rescue dig when the construction of the Al(M) began.
The excavation timetable had to be geared to the football fixtures of the adjacent school, whose pitch covered much of the Roman material. Total excavation was not possible and there have been difficulties of interpretation. What, queried Dr Rook, is one to make of a 20 ft square building beside the canal? A fountain? A sacred rhubarb patch? The excavators refer to it merely as ‘The Enigma.’
Recent field walking and site watching have revealed an amazing density of Belgic occupation in the area: one Belgic site per square of the National Grid.
The Belgic settlements are readily identifiable in the Hertfordshire gravels, and even limited excavation has produced a wealth of material. Belgic burials are also being found, though not many are of the so-called ‘chieftain’ class, such as the Panshanger burial now exhibited in the British Museum. There was an exciting detective story of a farmer’s chance find of a battered Iron Age mirror, followed by the discovery many weeks later of its handle, which led to the excavation of the related burial.
Study of the Belgic pottery, especially of the typical S-profile butt beakers, is producing valuable information and the cry ”I’ve had a fit’ from one of the archaeologists requires congratulation, not medication. It simply means that two more potsherds have been fitted together.
Field walking and study of aerial photographs are also beginning to -bring to -light Neolithic, Bronze Age and Medieval sites in the area. Our speaker’s approach to the problems of field walking was sometimes a little unorthodox. For example, if there is difficulty in tracing the ownership of a field lac suggested a simple solution begin walking across the field without permission and the irate owner will soon appear in hot pursuit.
Dr Rook showed some salutary slides illustrating the speed with which a site can be destroyed or damaged by development even when a careful watch is being maintained. However, one was left with the overwhelming impression that a programme of field walking and site watching, knowledgeably and selectively organised, is the surest way of identifying and protecting areas of archaeological interest.
SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING
Councillor Brian Jarman took the Chair at a Special General Meeting of the Society hold before the lecture on November 1, 1983, to consider the following Resolution:
That from the 1st April 1984, the Society’s subscriptions will be:
Members aged 18 – 60 £5 per annum
Members under 18 £3 per annum
Members over 60 £3 per annum
First member £5 per annum
Subsequent members £1 per annum
Two amendments were put forward. One, proposed by Mrs Nell Penny, suggested two alterations in the above proposals, namely that members aged 18-60 pay £4 per annum and that corporate membership be £5 per annum.
The other amendment, proposed by Mr Philip Greenall sought to ensure that family membership was open to over-60s at the over-60 subscription of £3 plus 1£ for subsequent members.
After discussion, in which many of the hundred or so members present took part, the first amendment was defeated and the second was carried, the original Resolution, with Mr Greenall’s amendment incorporated, was then put to the meeting and carried by a very large majority.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
We were delighted to hear again a few weeks ago from CAROLE KENT, who was a member back in 1979. Then she went with her pilot husband to West Africa. Now, back in England again, she has rejoined us with her two daughters, MELANIE and RUTH, both keen on archaeology.
In fact Melanie joined HADAS over a year ago, before her mother’s return, and took part in some of the Prehistoric Group river walks last winter. She started on a degree course at the Institute of Archaeology last October. ‘She went in at the deep end,” Mrs Kent told us. “The very first thing she had to do was a 4-day survival course in Sussex, on which she had to kill and skin a rabbit – and she loves animals!’
Our Hon. Treasurer, VICTOR JONES, is on his travels – he departed on November 20 for a 2-month stay in India. It sounds like a real getaway-from-it-all trip. Six weeks will be spent in Madras and then some weeks travelling round. He hopes to catch up on some archaeology, too, Particularly since his starting point, Madras, is the place wherein 1944 Mortimer Wheeler found (in a museum cupboard, not stratified!) the Roman amphora neck which provided the vital clue to a hitherto unsuspected 1st century AD Roman trading post in India. This was at Arikamedu, near Pondicherry – a site to which Wheeler returned a year later to direct one of his ‘model’ digs.
AUBREY HODES, a HADAS member since 1979, and a teacher at Holloway School, tells us that he has applied for early retirement and will leave Holloway in the spring of 1984. The following autumn he hopes to be off to China to teach English literature for a year, though he says this job which obviously he is longing to do – is not yet ‘in the bag.’ A formal letter from Peking is still awaited. If he goes, he promises us a column from ‘our China Correspondent’. Meantime, as you see below, we already have one correspondent from China.
HADAS members, either at work or on holiday, are considerable travellers – as this account by ROSE EDGCUMBE shows …
A GLIMPSE OF CHINA
A 3-week tour of China that attempts to cover archaeology, architecture, landscape gardens, the arts and traditional industries, of necessity gives little more than tantalising glimpses of the riches of China’s history. The Chinese themselves, though friendly and welcoming, are not always aware of or interested in their past, and are only just beginning to cater for tourists by providing catalogues, site explanations And museum labelling in languages other than Chinese. Fortunately for us, when there was a translation English was the most frequently Used language. Equally fortunately our English tour leader, Philip Barnes, was both erudite and experienced in negotiating with our Chinese tour organizer, so that we sometimes got off the beaten tourist track.
Thus in Hangzhou History Museum, we sidestepped the queues for the mummies and spent our time in rooms where we seemed to be the only visitors looking at finds from two neolithic sites in the area south of the Yangzi mouth.
The Majiabang site was excavated in 1959, and the Hemudu site in 1973; but due to the upheavals of the cultural revolution no proper report of either site has yet been published. The exhibits were labelled only in Chinese, which neither our local guide nor the museum staff could reliably translate, and no catalogue was available, so that we were indebted to Pr Barnes for information about these finds. The Hemudu site has been carbon-dated to about 4800 BC, the Majiabang site to between 4600-4300 BC, Both are probably an early Thai culture rather than a precursor of the Chinese, who spread to this area only after the unification of the North by the Qin over 4000 years later.
Organic Materials Preserved
Because of the waterlogged and peaty nature of the sites some wooden structures and woven materials have been preserved, in addition to stone and bone artefacts.’ From the Hemudu site we saw wooden fragments with mortice and tenon joints, and fragments of hemp as well as bone noodles and loom weights. In addition to stone tools there were many bone farming implements (bones of alligator, hippopotamus, tiger and elephant were used), and primitive rice seeds and plants were found on the site, giving evidence of rice cultivation. There was also evidence of domestication of pigs as well as of hunting. The Museum contained, too, a good deal of blackware pottery, and evidence of lacquer work had been found.
At the Majiabang site evidence of jute-weaving was found; and the museum contained many jade discs up to 7 or 8 in. in diameter, with holes in the centre, also oblong-shaped pieces with holes at one end, for ‘ritual’ use. (Obviously in China, as elsewhere in the archaeological world, ‘ritual’ covers a multitude of possibilities)
Further north we saw a slightly later Neolithic site (4000 BC): Banpo, near Xian, in Shaanxi province. This was much better presented: the actual site of 50,000 sq w, excavated between 1954-57, has been roofed over, and walkways provided for those who wish to count post holes and judge shares and sizes for themselves. The sites of dwelling houses, storage nits, pottery kilns and burials (some communal, with the sexes separated) are well labelled and described in English. On show is a large collection of stone and bone tools and implements, many very finely executed, painted pottery (notably black geometric patterns on a red _background, but also animal and plant figures), and personal ornaments in bone, stone-and pottery. A small illustrated catalogue was available, so that it-was altogether easier to comprehend this impressive site. But oven here unawareness of our likely interest in the site meant that too little time had been allowed for a really satisfying viewing.
Silent Ranks of Soldiers
Xian, of course, also boasts, at Mount Li, the one site that has been so well publicised that it needs no description the pottery warrior and horse pits east of the mausoleum of Shi Huang Ti, the first emperor of China, of the Qin dynasty (221-207 BC). Here again one could walk through the actual site, and the museum included examples of different types of warriors repainted as they would originally have been. Sets of slides and a translation of the preliminary report by the archaeological team were available. Though we had all read about this excavation, which began in 1974, and had seen illustrations of the life-sized men and horses, we were still unprepared for the overwhelming experience of walking among these silent ranks of soldiers, all individually sculpted, no two faces alike, a real army ready to move off. It was a moving and eerie experience, the stillness somehow emphasising the apparent aliveness of the men and animals. In some places the warriors are still emerging from the ground, or lying tumbled and broken in pitiful fashion.
In the course of our tour we saw many examples of tombs and their contents, ranging from the sacrifice of live slaves and concubines in the Shang dynasty to the exquisite figurines of the Tang dynasty. The clay warriors of the Qin tomb are an intermediate step: life–size and lifelike, as if the sculptors had taken the emperor’s real soldiers as their models. Presumably Shi Huang Ti needed to keep his army alive and fighting; not so the craftsmen who prepared his actual mausoleum: according to a contemporary account they were buried alive to preserve the secrets of the entrance to the tomb, and the marvels within.
More Finds to Come?
In our briefing at the site we were told that excavation of the mausoleum itself is to begin at the end of this year. It is thought likely that the mausoleum was subsequently plundered and burnt, in spite of the emperor’s precautions, so the archaeologists do not know what they will find. In other areas outside the mausoleum they think they may find lifesize figures of court officials and other non-military people.
Xian, formerly the capital city Chang’an and the start of the silk road to the west, boasts a wealth of historical treasures and was for me, the high point of the tour; there are a Buddhist temple and a mosque,pagodas and gardens. The Provincial Museum houses a huge collection from several dynasties of bronzes, pottery, stone carvings, iron implements, frescoes, paintings, gold and silver objects and tomb figurines.
Most impressive was the forest of steles:’ a collection of inscribed tablets (variously given as over 1000, 2000 and 3000 – we seemed to have a lot of trouble translating numbers!) some dating back to the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906). They are in various forms of script, and include classics, history, encyclopaedias, odes and commemorative tombstones, and were used as textbooks for students.
Farming, Fields and Houses
We covered thousands of miles, visited many cities and managed to see an amazingly large number of palaces, temples, Buddhist rock carvings and gardens – almost to the point of getting mental indigestion. A lot of our travel was by train and bus, which gave us a good look at the workers in the countryside. Much of the farming is still done using medieval equipment and techniques which are labour intensive and efficient. We saw, for instance, ploughs drawn by horses, oxen and men, and harrowing done by a 6-man team pushing and Pulling a square wooden harrow.
We even found ourselves helping in the harvest, since the peasants spread their grain over the road and make use of passing vehicles to help thresh it.We found this technique nerve-racking at first, because they dart out into the road in between vehicles to turn over the heap of grin and dodge back at the last second. The crops looked thick and healthy; the harvest good, except in one area where recent severe flooding had rotted the maize and millet in the fields, as well as washing away whole villages.
Houses in the countryside are still built largely in mud-brick as they must have been for centuries. This continuity with the nest is everywhere apparent in China, though the Chinese do not seem consciously interested in their history except insofar as it provides inspiring or warning examples for their present behaviour and aspirations. An enduring memory, which typifies China for me, is of a spirit way to a on tomb: the great carved marble animals stood, some among a tobacco crop, others with maize stalks stacked beside them, others in the midst of a field where a farmer was carefully ploughing round them, taking their Presence for granted. He was amiably acquiescent to our picking our way along the edge of the fields to admire and take photos of him and the animals, but somewhat puzzled by our peculiar curiosity.
If Rose’s report whets your appetite for things Chinese, you may like to know of a trip being arranged next year by the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding. This is their China Tour called Chinese treasures 23 days from August 11-September 2, 1984. It takes in Beijing, Xian, Luoyang, Zhengzhou, Kaifeng, Nanjing, Changzhou, Shanghai, Hong Kong and then home. Travel is mainly by rail (including one overnight train) occasionally by bus; and out and back by air. Cost is £1641.
Many members will have already heard, with great sadness, of the death on October 23 of Christine Arnott’s husband, Eric, following a short illness in the Royal Free Hospital.
Eric had been a member since 1978, but he had been a friend of HADAS long before that, as he often accompanied Christine on outings from the time she first joined us over 12 years ago. Christine has been a Committee member almost as long as she has been a Society member, and Eric supported her in the many jobs that fall into a Committee members lap.
After his most distinguished war service (he was an RAF Pathfinder with a double DFC) Eric became an accountant and banker. Many people will remember him particularly for the gentle, unobtrusive way in which he looked after the financial side of our annual Minimarts, moving quietly among the stallholders to collect the takings, totting them up with incredible speed and telling us how well we had done almost before the door closed behind the last customer.
HADAS will miss him very much: we shore in small part the great loss suffered by Christine and her daughters and son, and our deepest sympathy goes to them all.
NEWS FROM THE GROUPS
Prehistoric. The new series of river walks mentioned in the November Newsletter will start on December 11, when we begin our investigation of the Dollis Brook. meet in Brent Street, at the east corner of the North Circular Road/Brent St junction, at 10 an. Please let Sheila Woodward know on 952 3897 if you intend coming, so that we don’t move off without you. Urgently needed on this (and subsequent) walks: a Photograph or two might be even better, as we would like to record in both black and white shots and also colour slides.
Roman. A very satisfying working weekend was enjoyed by the Roman Group on November 12-13 at the Hampstead Garden Suburb Teahouse. With extra assistance from two valiant husbands the 8 crates of Brockley Hill pottery were moved from Institute to Teahouse. Indexing the collection continued, as did pottery drawing. The contents lists of the crates were chocked and renewed. Some frail pots were repaired (a cold job, done on the verandah to avoid fumes from the repairing kit) and research continued on particular items, such as amphora bases, mortarium stamps, and London Ware. The group was joined by two new members who soon found their feet (though not, we hasten to say, literally!) among the bowls, jars, flagons, dishes, tazze and kiln furniture.
Next meeting of the Roman-Group will be on Monday Dec 12 at 94 Hillside Gardens, Edgware at 8 pm. If you hope to come, please let Tessa Smith know on 953 9159.
DOCUMENTARY – The STATUTORY LIST
Thanks to LBB’s Planning Department (to which we are most grateful) HADAS now has the use, on loan, of a copy of the DoE’s new Statutory List for this Borough of Buildings of Architectural and Historic Interest. It is not the final word on the subject – some corrections are still required in this List – but it is what secondhand booksellers would call ‘a good working copy,’ and it has enough information for the Documentary Group to he able to start on a new project.
This will be to make (using the Statutory List as basis) an index of all Listed buildings in the Borough, with as much information as we can about each of them.
Listed building means anything from a Lutyens church like St Jude’s, Hampstead Garden .Suburb, or the historic 15c Tudor Hall in Wood Street Barnet, to street furniture such as a milestone in Brent Street, the whetstone that provides Whetstone’s name or statues like ‘Peace’ in Friary Park or ‘La Deliverance’ (known locally as ‘rude Annie’ because of her lack of apparel) at Henly’s Corner, The milestones and street furniture are of particular interest to HADAS because when we made recomendations for this List back in 1975 we put in a whole section on street furniture, which until then had never figured on a List for Barnet. Our only regret is that some things we suggested – horse troughs, drinking fountains, Victorian post boxes – have not made it.
The Society has for years had an index of the old Statutory List, to which we added as new buildings were listed. It was originally made for us by Adrian Jeakins, Alex’s father, and it has always been a .rose: useful tool. ‘The information in it came from original Lists, some of which (for Hendon, for instance) were dated as early as April, 1947. We feel that we will get a better result now if we start again from scratch, rather than trying to alter the old index; and we also propose to extend the scope.
For instance, the DoE List has a brief note about most buildings: the notes are mainly architectural and are a bit short on history. We will start with the DoE information, and hope to build it up, particularly on the historical side. We will note wherever a Blue Plaque or other inscription appears on a building and record the precise wording. Also it would also nice to have each building photographed, and put a strip of contact prints on the back of the index card.
This will be a long-term exercise, on which people can do as much or little as they choose. Anyone who would like to take part will be most warmly welcomed by the Documentary Group. We want three kinds of help:
those prepared to copy out index cards, either in clear handwriting or on their own typewriters;
those who will Lake a short list of buildings and see what further information they can dig out about them, either in LBB Local History Collection or further afield if necessary;
photographers, prepared to take several exterior shots of buildings, either in their own vicinity or in other part of the Borough.
If you would like to help in any of these ways, please ring Brigid Grafton Green (455 9040) and let her know.
A CRY’ FOR HELP from our site-watching organiser, ELIZABETH SANDERSON
As you know, HADAS maintains a watch on developments within the Borough of Barnet which might be of some archaeological interest. Our intrepid site-watchers can often be seen lurking where holes are being – or are likely to be – dug.
First stage of the monitoring procedure (after we have picked out possible sites on the weekly planning application lists) is for someone to look at the plans at the local planning department during weekday office hours, so gathering information which will help us decide if actual site-‘ watching will be worthwhile. Sometimes only part of a site is of interest, and the plans may show that part is not affected; or plans may show lines of trenches to be cut for drains or other services.
We desperately need volunteers for this particular stage of site-watching, because so many members are at work during normal office hours. If you happen to have time free on weekdays between 9-5 please let me, know on 950 5106. I should add that higher degrees in architecture are not necessary! If you are interested in helping, even though you are not used to studying plans, please give me a ring.
SITES TO WATCH
In the last month or so planning applications have been submitted to the Council for the following sites, which might have some archaeological interest if the application were granted:
John Croons, Edgware Way. 905-25 High Road 2 blocks and access road
3 Potters Rd, New Barnet 3 storey block
land between 104/6 Blundell Rd, Burnt Oak. Two storey maisonettes
3 Farrington Cottages, Moon Lane, Barnet
land adj. Featherstone Hse, Wise NW7
land fronting Meadowbank Cottage,Barnet Rd, Arkley
land adj 43 Ripon Way, Boreham Wood
24 Farnham Close, N20 3 detached houses
that development is imminent, Elizabeth Sanderson would greatly appreciate the information, on 950 3106.
LONDON AT WAR
LAMAS held its 18th Local History Conference at the Museum of London on November 19. This year war was the theme: not, perhaps, the most appealing of subjects. Such however is the popularity of this conference that attendance was as high as ever and the audience as lively and as questioning.
The real joy of the event lies in meeting friendly colleagues and having a chance to discuss with them the triumphs and disasters of local history work. HADAS incidentally, had a stand, but it was disappointing that only three HADAS members attended the conference. Jeremy Clynes organised a bookstall, for which we thank him very much; Brigid Grafton Green put on a display of photographs; and George Ingram attended his first major public function since his operation: it was a real pleasure to sec him enjoying himself again.
There were four speakers. Rosemary Weinstein, of the Museum of London, talked about London in the Civil War, and particularly of the 18 miles of trench and rampart, studded with 24 forts, thrown up at speed by a fiercely •independent citizenry when the King’s forces got worryingly close the fortifications are as much an archaeological as an historical problem, and the pity is that we have no evidence for them from the ground. A few street names – Mount St, in Mayfair, and some Castle Streets – indicate where the forts may have been sited. Documentary sources include William Lithgow’s Surveigh of London, 1643, which records his perambulation of the defences; and Vertue’s map of London’s Civil War defences, drawn in 1738, nearly a century afterwards.
C W Harrison, Borough Archivist of Lewisham, described Deptford Dockyard, taking us back to a possible origin in 1420 and then the first establishment of formal facilities by Henry VIII in 1513. The yard was at its peak during the Napoleonic wars, with Nelson’s flagship at the Nile, the Neptune, being launched at Deptford in 1797. The last ship to go down to launch was HMS Druid in 1869.
Alistair Glass, an architect in the Ministry of Defence, outlined the history of barrack buildings, pointing out what a long gap there .. as in such building in Britain. In the 1200 years from the departure of the 1 ;ions c.410 AD to the Restoration in 1660 no accommodation for soldiers was built except in specially defended spots like the Tower.
Mr Glass started with houses built for the Foot and Hors* Guards at Hampton Court in. 1661, than took us through the remaining 17c, the 18 (when billeting rather than barracks was favoured) into the two periods of almost frenzied building– one from 1792-1815; the other, as a result of conditions in the Crimea, from bout 1860-onwards.
The outstanding ‘lecture’ of the day – and the most recent, in time came from Dr Wood, Deputy Keeper of the Department of Sound Records at The Imperial War Museum. He took just 36 weeks as his theme – the Battle of 1940-41.
Records of the Blitz
The Imperial War Museum has since 1971 had a policy of recording oral history. The majority of its records to date, deal with the First war, but it is just getting into its stride in recording the second war. In addition to its own recordings, it keeps selections from the media. – the BBC’s September 1957 programme, “The Winter Of the Bombs;”
Radio’s 1981 “London Can Take It;” and part of the Thames TV current series on the second war.
Instead of the usual pattern of slides held together by commentary, we had cassettes and commentary, both of high standard. For those who had lived through the London Blitz many memories were evoked; and it was interesting to note that people born long after the Blitz seemed to find the session equally gripping.
The commentary didn’t shirk unpalatable facts – for instance, when the Blitz began on September 7, 1940, London was ‘almost undefended:’ and what equipment there was: – searchlights, anti-aircraft guns – was ‘prehistoric.’ In the early winter some who used public shelters had to be treated for frostbite because there was no heating; and shelter sanitary arrangements were nil, so that ‘it hit you in the face as you went in., In the week following the heavy raid of May 10, 1941 (the night the House of Commons was hit) one-third of London streets were blocked and only one mainline station was operating; fires were still burning in places a week after the raid.
Most unforgettable were descriptions by ordinary Londoners give twenty or thirty years later. There was the lady who was dining at the Cafe de Paris the night it was hit. She came to in a dim, trance like aftermath, in no pain but unable to move. She was lying partly across a man, whom she later found to be a dead Scotsman in a kilt, part ly her side on the ground, her hand outflung inertly, palm upward. A figure shambled through the greyness and she felt it pick up her hand pull the rings off it. “There was,” commented Dr Wood drily, looting after the Cafe de Paris bomb. It was thought that everyone there must be rich.”
Mordant and Macabre
One searing description came from an appropriately named Miles Mordant, in his story of what it was like suddenly to be put on mortuary duty for the first time. He did not spare us the grisly details, but one of the most interesting points he made was the way that his mind shied away from coping with the gruesomeness and instead concentrated on an unimportant sideline. “It was the form that worried me most,’ he said. “I couldn’t get it off my mind that I had to fill in a form for each of of the bundles – things like estimated height, age, sex, colour of eyes and they hadn’t left me enough room on the form between the lines to do it ..
Macabre and funny at the same time was the description given by a lady who saw the bomb explosion at Bank station. “We were all sleeping on the tube platforms by then,” she said, “and the terrible thing was, the bomb came down the escalator. I don’t mean step by step, but it slanted so that it came down to the platform; and just as it came down, the train came in too …”
some snap judgments are interesting. “It wasn’t a bit humdrum then,” one man said, “rather exciting really, like a football match.” “You couldn’t go window-shopping any more,” complained another; and there weren’t no class distinctions, and that was good,” said a third.
We were also played background recordings about general conditions for instance, stories from a midwife, working in Kings Cross in 1939 – which make today’s poverty trap sound like paradise. “Often when I delivered a baby – and most people didn’t go into hospital then – there was nothing in the house except the mother, perhaps several children, and a few sticks of furniture. No bed linen or blankets, no crockery, no food. I’d be offered tea afterwards – in a jam jar. I used to give a friend of the mother – there was always a friend then, helping – a 6d. From that she could get enough stewing beef and 2d worth of potherbs potatoes, carrots, onions – to make a big stew for the family.’
Between 20,000-30,000 Londoners were killed in the Blitz (that doesn’t include later casualties of rocket and doodle-bug days) but one of the most interesting statistics was that, in its wisdom, the Government foresaw that the bombing of a civilian population would produce appalling nervous shock, comparable to the shell shock of the World War 1 trenches. So seven neurosis clinics were set up in London to deal with disoriented citizens. By the end of the Blitz they had treated 29 patients.
The Committee met on November 4 and these are some of the matters which were discussed.
A proposition put forward by BILL FIRTH at the last AGM was considered that HADAS should publish an annual Journal or Transactions. After debating the various implications, and considering the impact on the Newsletter, it was decided that, at the moment, it would be wiser not to undertake such a financially heavy commitment as an annual publication. It was, however, suggested that a small working-party be set up to consider the present production of the Newsletter and to look for ways in which costs could be kept down or production and distribution methods improved.
It was reported that, under the leadership of BRIAN WIBBERLEY, some work had been done last summer on a resistivity survey at East Barnet of a field by St Mary’s Church and Church Farm. Mr Wibberley’s interim report was noted, together with the fact that he intends doing further traverses of the field during next spring/summer, prior to a final report.
Copies of the new leaflet on Archaeology in Barnet (the production stages of which have been mentioned in earlier Newsletters) were available. It has been designed by LBB Planning Department and is based on material and drawings provided by HADAS. It will be distributed free by libraries throughout the Borough and will be available to schools. A copy is enclosed with this Newsletter for your own use, and it will be much appreciated if you are able to show it to non-archaeologist friends who might. be interested. Should you like a few extra conies to pass around, please let Brigid Grafton Green know, on 455-9040.
During October an opportunity arose to take aerial photographs of much of the northern part of the Borough. ELIZABETH SANDERSON achieved the miracle of laying on an aircraft at infinitesimal cost and PETER FAUVEL-CLINCH took the photos. These have not been studied fully yet but it is hoped that when they are we may gain some archaeological insights. The Committee warmly thanked both Elizabeth and Peter for their work.
HADAS has been invited to lend material on the West Heath dig to the Libraries Department of the Borough of Camden for an exhibition on Hampstead Heath to be held at St Pancras Library during December and early January. The exhibition may possibly travel later to other venues ouch as Lauderdale House and Burgh House. It has not been possible to lend artefacts, as our West Heath researchers are now in the final frenetic weeks of preparing the West Heath report (deadline is December 1) and all the flint is required for final checking, plotting distribution patterns, etc. However, we have been able to lend some of our extensive collection of photographs and drawings.
The small exhibit of Roman finds from Brockley Hill, which was mentioned in the September Newsletter, has now been mounted by HADAS at Church Farm House Museum, in the room to the left of the door as you enter. There are two showcases: one on the making of pottery at Brockley Hill, the other on Roman kitchens. If you should be near the Museum, do drop in and see the display. You will notice that this particular room now wears quite a Roman look, as the Museum’s Moxom Collection. is displayed in a wall case, and the Roman urn found behind a house in Sunny Gardens road and borrowed by HADAS on permanent loan from the finder is also on display.
ANGLO-SAXON CHURCH BUILDING
Latest volume in the Shire Archaeology series is Anglo-Saxon Architecture, by Mary and Nigel Kerr. It is concerned principally with the stone buildings. which survive from the years between the end of the Roman occupation and the Norman Conquest.
This really boils down to churches, because vernacular Saxon building halls, houses, palaces – was in timber Indeed the Anglo-Saxon verb ‘to build’ was ‘get timber,’ which speaks for itself. The authors do in fact devote one chanter to wooden buildings, and include in it some material about West Stow – the subject of our first lecture in 1984 (see p.1 of this Newsletter).
The chapters on stone church building cover the form and function of churches, materials (including the re-use of Roman material, as at Hexham) and architectural decoration and detail. The excellent photographs and diagrams show some of HADAS’s old friends (such as Earl’s Barton and Brixworth) and others too far away for us to have reached on a day trip.
. This book fills a gap, not only in the Shire series but also in the mainstream history of building in Britain. It costs £1.95 and is obtainable from Pete Griffiths, 8 Jubilee Avenue, London Colney, forts AL2 1QG. Add 30p for packing and postage.