Newsletter 164: October 1984
SALUTE TO SUMMER PAST
That was a summer that was: a long, warm, pleasant season and one into which, HADAS managed to cram quite a lot.
First, of course, we dug again at West Heath, all day every day for the six weeks of June and July; and then, in slightly less concentrated vein, four days a week for part of August and September.
The season kicked off, back on April 1, with the memorable unveiling of the Grimaldi plaque on Finchley Memorial Hospital by Spike Milligan and sundry other clowns: a zany and never-to-be-forgotten occasion.
In May came a highly enjoyable walk round Hampstead with Christopher Wade, followed later in the summer by three outstanding outings – and this year they were all real vintage stuff – to York (where we got in right at the start of the Jorvik exhibition), to West Stowe and to Repton, finishing off with a smashing weekend in Lincoln (see elsewhere in this Newsletter for a report on that). Sandwiched among those was a local trip of considerable interest – to see the historic installations and layout of Hendon airfield, one of the cradles of flying.
We put up exhibitions at Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute and at Church Farm House Museum (the latter still on view, don’t forget); and lent material for a display at Burgh House, Hampstead; and the Roman Group organised a pottery weekend at the Teahouse.
Meanwhile, in the background, research of various kinds continued; most noteworthy, of course, the final frenetic stages in getting the West Heath (Phase I) report ready and deposited with its sponsoring publisher. Finally (we wouldn’t dare say this ourselves, but as someone else said it for us we pass it on): the Newsletter has continued to appear each month and has kept up to standard. It still brings forth accolades of appreciation, recently from as far afield as Australia!
Not a bad HADAS summer, on the whole.
WHAT’S ON IN HADAS
Tues Oct 2 Orkney: Isbister ‘The Tomb of the Eagles’ by John Hedges
(for further details, see the September Newsletter)
Tues Nov 6 Industrial Archaeology of London’s Dockland by Robert Carr
Lectures are at Hendon Library, The Burroughs, NW4. Coffee 8 pm, lecture 8.30 pm.
Sat Oct 6 at St Mary’s Church House, top of Greyhound Hill, NW4, opposite Church Farm House Museum. 11.30 am-3 pm. Will all members please publicise our only fund-raising event of the year as much as possible and come along themselves, to meet friends old and new, and to buy, eat and chat. There will be books, bric-a-brac, gifts, clothing and home-made food, coffee and an excellent ploughman’s lunch.
Help is needed from strong-arm car owners for transporting goods from Church Road to the hall (only about 100 yards). Ring Dorothy Newbury if you can do a couple of runs between 9-11.30 am. We are a bit short on selling staff too, so anyone who can give a hand please phone Dorothy or Christine Arnott (455 2751). The crucial time is the first hour, from 11.30 to lunchtime.
Last minute contributions of goods can be brought to the lecture on October 2 and poster slips for display on cars or in local shops will also be available then. Contributions of fresh food, savoury or sweet, will be warmly welcomed at the food stall on the day.
As the Newsletter goes to press this year’s West Heath dig is drawing to its close. Even if it is not completely finished by September 30 it will not continue for more than a few days into October. ‑
We hope to publish a summary of what has happened this season in a forthcoming Newsletters
NEWS ABOUT PEOPLE
Birthday Greetings this month to our President, Professor W F Grimes who celebrates 79 years on the last day of October. We would all like to wish him very happy, and especially those who enjoyed our 1983 long weekend in Wales, to which he contributed so unforgettably.
A member who journeys far afield at the moment is our ex-Treasurer, JEREMY CLYNES, now off in Zambia on a trip that is part business, part pleasure.
This seems a good place to record the Society’s thanks to ERIC WARD one of our top photographers – who went along to the Grimaldi plaque celebration last April (despite being hampered by leg trouble) and recorded it splendidly. He has now presented the Society with a set of slides and some Colour enlargements for exhibitions; all prepared at his own expense both will be invaluable, and we are most grateful. We were sorry to learn, when he rang to tell us about this generous gift, that his legs are no better and that he is greatly hindered in movement: a wretched problem for someone who has always been as active as he has.
The Council for British Archaeology is currently compiling a Handbook of Historic Farm Buildings – barns, granaries, cattle houses, stables and dovecotes – built before 1900, plus any related machinery or equipment. We were interested to learn that the compiler is a HADAS member – NIGEL HARVEY, who joined us back in the 1960s and has helped with various Society projects. Farming is, of course, his thing: until he retired a few years ago he was a bulwark of the Ministry of Agriculture; and he published “A History of Farm buildings, of which there is a copy (kindly presented by Mr Harvey) in the HADAS Library.
The Archaeology Section of the UK Institute for Conservation has, over the past 18 months, published three leaflets the start of a series called Conservation Guidelines. Others, we are told, are in the pipeline.
No 1 (four fine-printed octavo pages) deals with the general principles of conserving excavated artefacts, summarising what should be done before, during and after excavation.
No 2 is concerned with the packaging and storage of freshly-excavated artefacts. There are 4 pages covering general principles, documentation and how to deal with individual materials. Various metals are to be kept dry; other artefacts – including glass, low-fired or flaky-glazed ceramic, bone, ivory, amber, jet, shale and painted plaster – should be packed damp. This is because, for instance, mud on glass or silt on painted plaster becomes almost unmovable when dry, and both remain malleable in damp packing. This leaflet also contains a separate graphic chart for the finds hut wall, showing how – and how not – to do it: well worth having, on its own.
No 3 (4 pages) has the title Environmental Standards for the Permanent Storage of Excavated Material. It is divided into Minimum Standards (for temporary storage) and Target Standards (for longer term) and each of these is subdivided into Basic Store and Sensitive Material Store; and subdivided again as to detail – humidity, temperature, light and particulate pollution (i.e. dust to the uniniated).
Copies of all these are obtainable free from UKIC, The Tate Gallery, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG (send an sae, 9″x6″).
On a wider aspect of conservation – this time of something larger than finds – a new post-graduate diploma, Planning for Conservation, is being launched after Christmas by the Polytechnic of North London. It is described as ‘the first course of its kind,’ and is said to be designed for both amateurs and professionals who are concerned with conserving ancient buildings or historic landscapes.
It will be a 2-year part-time course, starting January 1985 – one evening a week and occasional day visits and a residential long weekend. Further details from Dr R Millman, Dept of Geography, Polytechnic of North London, Holloway Road, N7.
Some months ago the following article appeared in The Times Literary Supplement. Three HADAS members drew our attention to it, so we asked the Editor of the TLS if we might reprint – And he very kindly replied ‘Do.’ Here, then, by courtesy of the TLS, is:
THE ORIGINS OF DRACULA
By Philip Temple
‘And then …. He took a key from his pocket and held it up. And then we spend the night, you and I, in the churchyard where Lucy lies. This is the key that locks the tomb. I had it from the coffin-man to give to Arthur.’ My heart sank within me, for I felt that there was some fearful ordeal before us. I could do nothing, however, so I plucked up what heart I could and said that we had better hasten, as the afternoon was passing …”
As readers of Dracula – rather than viewers of Dracula films – know some of the tale’s most bizarre action takes place in a churchyard near London. Lucy Westenra, who falls victim to the Count and becomes one of the Un-Dead, is entombed in the family mausoleum at ‘Kingstead.’ By day she sleeps in her coffin: After dusk she preys on small children in the Hampstead neighbourhood. Several such children are found, one of them on “the Shooter’s Hill side of Hampstead Heath each has been bitten in the throat. It is in the Westenra tomb that her fiance Arthur Holmwood –helped by Professor;Van Helsing, Dr.Seward and Quincey P Morris – exorcises her soul by putting a stake through her heart and cutting off her head.
It has generally been thought that Stoker’s model for ‘Kingstead Churchyard’ was Highgate Cemetery but this theory is soon disproved. In the process some interesting light was thrown on Stoker’s sources for the story
Factual accuracy of geography and even train timetables— characterises Dracula , a device which makes the story more credible to the reader. Stoker goes to some lengths to pinpoint Kingstead, and the place he evidently had in mind was Hendon, which lies between Hampstead and Kingsbury, and was still a large village in the 1890s.
Seward and Van Helsing set off about ten from Jack’s Straw’s Castle in Hampstead.“It was then very dark, and the scattered lamps made the darkness greater when we were once again outside their individual radius. The Professor had evidently noted the road we were to ‘go, for he went on unhesitatingly: but as for me, I was in quite a mix-up as to locality. As we went further, we met fewer and fewer people, till at last we were somewhat surprised when we met even the patrol of horse police going their usual suburban round. At last we reached the wall of the churchyard, which we climbed over.”
As Seward refers to, Jack Straw’s Castle and later to the Spaniards Inn familiarly enough, it is obvious that they were not going to Highgate: the road would have taken them past the Spaniard’s, in which case Seward would have known the way. Nor can they have been crossing the Heath to Highgate because there were street lamps on the way. Nor can they have been going to Hampstead churchyard (which does resemble the description of the churchyard at Kingstead): as this would have meant going further into Hampstead village. The inference is that they were going along North End Road, through Golder’s Green and along Brent Street to Hendon parish church. The route was straightforward, once the right direction had been taken at the inn. The area was still largely countryside. Evelyn Waugh, writing of his childhood at North End, described Golders Green as having been ‘a grassy crossroad with a sign pointing to London’, Finchley and Hendon; such a place as where ‘the Woman in White’ was encountered. By the 1890s Hendon was large and growing: 1,400 houses in 1879; 2,636 in 1893, the year in which Dracula is set. It was said in 1894 that Hendon.
‘though within seven miles of St Giles’ Church, retains much of the aspect of an old Middlesex village. An exquisite view is seen from the churchyard …London might be hundreds of miles away, and the village-like church strengthens the illusion.’.
Near the east end of St Mary’s is the tomb of Philip Rundell, who died in 1827. This tomb described by the architect W P Griffith in 1838 ‘as a massive mausoleum constructed of stone’ must have been the model for the Westenra tomb in Dracula. Mausoleums, of course, are rare buildings in churchyards. Although other nearby churchyards contain plenty of vaults, they have no actual mausoleums.
It would have taken only about an hour to reach Hendon from the inn, a ‘distance of about three miles. This fits in well with Stoker’s times, for it was just midnight when Seward and van Helsing, having opened Lucy’s coffin and found it empty, took up their hiding places in the churchyard to await the return of the UnDead.
Despite alterations to the church by Temple Moore in the early twentieth century, the general look of the churchyard is much as it was when -the sculptor and one-time Pre-Raphaelite Thomas Woolner was buried there in 1892: “The graves are sheltered from the blasts by spreading cedars, ancient yews, and lovely evergreen trees. The old church walls are covered ‘with ivy, and there is an avenue of limes arched overhead, from the entrance gates to the south door.” Ivy and lime-trees have gone, but the village churchyard character remains. Even in Stoker’s day it was something of a survival. There were large buildings overlooking the churchyard, which was hardly the remote place described in Dracula:
“Lucy lies in the tomb of her kin, a lordly death-house in a lonely churchyard, away from teeming London; where the air is fresh, and the sun rises over Hampstead Hill, and where wild flowers grow of their own accord.”
Incidentally, the sun as seen from the churchyard does rise over .Hampstead. This would not be the case with Highgate Cemetery, which lies east of Hampstead.
Stoker may well have had some link with Hendon, perhaps through, Woolner who had lived at St Peter’s Ouvroir in Brent Street. Stoker knew Rossetti, and lived near him in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. Sir Hall Caine, who was, after Sir Henry Irving, probably Stoker’s closest associate, was one of Rossetti’s closest friends, and his companion until Rossetti died in 1882. It has been credibly suggested that Caine may have written the final draft of Dracula for Stoker. There may well have been a closer link with Hendon: the Hendon & Finchley Times reported as local news in 1893 the publication of a souvenir booklet to mark Henry Irving’s revival of King Lear at the Lyceum where Stoker was manager. At all events, Hendon was a convenient location for ‘Kingstead.’ But something happened at the churchyard in 1828 which may well have been Stoker’s inspiration for the exorcism in the first place, which he then fitted into the story and turned into a classic piece of vampire horror:
“Arthur took the stake and hammer, and when once his mind was set on action his hands never trembled or even quivered. Van Helsing opened his missal and began to read, and Quincey and I followed as well as we could Arthur placed the point over the heart, and as I looked I could see its dint in the white flesh. Then he struck with all his might. The Thing in the coffin writhed; and a hideous, blood-curdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions; the sharp white teeth champed together till the lips were cut and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur never faltered. He looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced heart welled and spurted up around it. His face was, set, and high duty seemed to shine through it; .the sight of it gave courage so that our voices seemed to ring through the little vault.”
The first part of the exorcism over, Lucy’s head was severed and the mouth stuffed with garlic,
In November 1828 a man called Holm of an old Hendon family asked the vicar’s permission to open a vault in the churchyard of St Mary’s. His son, a Medical student, wanted to collect up bones in the vault. Eventually the vicar agreed to allow the vault to be opened for just an hour the next morning. The coffins, he said, were not to be tampered with. But at 7.30 in the morning a local saw three men in the vault. One of them – the medical student Henry Holm – pulled the shroud off a body, then cut off the head which he put into a bag. The body was his mother’s: she had died about twenty years before. Holm and his companions – the sexton’s son and a man called Wood. – were found guilty of breaking open the vault and severing a head from one of the bodies ‘to the outrage of public decency’. Because their purpose was allegedly scientific – Holm wanted to carry out a phrenological examination with a view to tracing a hereditary disorder – they got off fairly leniently. Holm was fined £50, the others £5 each. The vault in question was near the Rundell mausoleum, and the inscription can still be read. Henry Haley Holm died at 39 in 1846, his mother Hannah Maria died at 36 in 1809.
Did Stoker know this story? The chances are that he did. It was published as an item of interest in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper 1892. On the same page was a long ‘rave’ review, with illustrations, of Irving’s production of King Lear at the Lyceum. The play ‘evoked one of the heartiest and most spontaneous demonstrations of unalloyed satisfaction ever heard within the walls of the Lyceum’. As Irving’s manager, Stoker would almost certainly have seen the review and therefore no doubt the Hendon story. This would explain not only the name Holmwood, but why the churchyard at Kingstead figures in the novel at all. The similarity of the factual and fictional events is obvious. In one case a son cuts his mother’s head off, to trace an hereditary disorder, in the other a man helps to cut off his fiancee’s head to cure another disorder. In fact, Stoker puts far more emphasis on cutting off the head than on the staking of the body, although the staking is the thing most people remember:
“‘Good God!’ he cried. What do you mean? Has there been any mistake? Has she been buried alive?’ He groaned in anguish that not even hope could soften.
‘I did not say she was alive, my child; I did not think it. I go no further than to say that she might be Un-Dead.’
‘Un-Dead! Not alive! What do you mean? Is this all a nightmare, or what is it?’
‘There are mysteries which men can only guess at, which age by age they may solve only in part. Believe me, we are now on the verge of one.
But I have not done. May I cut off the head of dead Miss Lucy?'”
A final curious point concerns the child found on the ‘Shooter’s Hill side’ of Hampstead Heath. Shooter’s Hill, of course, is miles away from Hampstead across the Thames. Surely what was intended was the ‘Shoot-up Hill side.’ ‘Shoot-up Hill is the stretch of the Edgware Road going north from Kilburn, just to the west of Hampstead. In the 1890s the fringes of the Heath extended almost to this point, certainly as far as West Hampstead and the Hampstead Cemetery at Fortune Green. It was therefore in this area that the child was found. This reinforces the idea that Lucy Westenra was entombed up the road in Hendon. But it also seems to be a reference to Wilkie Collins’s novel “The Woman in White” Stoker was clearly influenced by the book, particularly in his use of letters and diary extracts to form the narrative. There are other interesting similarities: the stories both involve private asylums, for instance (they also have villains known as ‘the Count’). It was on the Shoot-up Hill side of Hampstead that Walter Hartright first met the Woman in White. Stoker must have known this, and Lucy would, of course, have been dressed in white grave clothes. The link must have been in his mind.
Even without final proof it seems likely that part of the inspiration for Dracula came not only from books and tales from Transylvania, which have always been known as its sources, but from something that happened in Hendon churchyard in 1828.
Note: the TLS published the article in its issue of November 4, 1983.
Perhaps it is as well that by then the HADAS project of recording the inscriptions in Hendon churchyard had been completed. Otherwise we might have found volunteer recorders rather thin on the ground, specially towards dusk! With the tale of Henry Holm (not to mention Lucy Westenra) Hendon churchyard in the gloaming takes on a certain creepiness.
FRIEZE ON THE TALLY-HO GAUMONT
Last month’s Newsletter mentioned that the Borough Planning Officer had been asked to ensure that the frieze on the soon-to-be-demolished Gaumont at Tally-Ho would be preserved. Subsequently HADAS member BILL FIRTH sent us this note:
With reference to the fate of the frieze on the Gaumont, it seems that there have been a number of different approaches on this. The August 1984 GLIAS Newsletter carries an item indicating that Markheath Securities PLC (the company proposing development) are intending to remove the frieze carefully for re-use on one of the new cinemas in the proposed development.
Another member rang to ask us ‘what the frieze portrayed; it is an Art Deco stone mural in low-relief, and it shows the cinema arts: about nine or ten figures, from the waist up, filming, producing and acting, with lights, cameras and other equipment.
We also had a follow-up to last month’s article on Elias Ashmole’s links with the Borough of Barnet. This came from Gillian Gear, co-author of the booklet East Barnet Village, published in 1980.
She rang to say that the Keeper of Lions at the Tower in the mid-17c, Ralph Gill, had actually lived in East Barnet, at a house called the Clockhouse. Gill’s daughter married Mr Green, who in 1639 owned Mount Pleasant, the house at which Ashmole had stayed in East Barnet four years earlier. No doubt Mr Green and Miss Gill met because they were such near neighbours.
‘The Clockhouse stood close to what is now the junction of Churchill. Road, Cat Hill and East Barnet Road (TQ 2720 9535), where there is today a small shopping parade called Clockhouse Parade. The clock tower above. the present shops once stood on the Clockhouse – it shows in an early photo of the house reproduced in Mrs Gear’s booklet.
The Clockhouse, built in the reign of Henry VIII by Thomas Dudman, appears to have been divided into two houses round the mid-1830s, and one part was then called Arlington Towers. It was finally demolished about 1925, when a builder from Golders Green called Percy (whether this was his first or second name is unclear) built the shopping parade.
One question which sticks in the mind is why someone holding the office of Keeper of the Queen’s Lions lived as far away from the Tower as East Barnet. He might perhaps have been expected to live over the shop, as it were, so that if one of his charges got fractious he was at hand. Maybe this office had become, in the 1630s, a sinecure? Perhaps some HADAS member knowledgable about the Tower can enlighten us?
SITES TO WATCH
Applications for development approval which might be of some archaeological interest have slowed down in the last month or so. These are two of possible interest:
Land at Rookery Way, rear of properties in industrial units,
Rookery Close, NW9 vehicle access etc.
Part of W.Hendon hospital site, Fryent erection of primary
Grove, NW9 school (outline)
(Both the above are near enough to the line of Watling St to be worth looking at)
Should you be passing and notice signs of activity on either site, please let Christine Arnott (455 2751) or John Enderby (203 2630) know.
Recent applications for changes to Listed buildings include:
‘Alterations (internal and external) and a new porch at Garden Hill and its adjacent ‘cottage’ (formerly the stable block) in Totteridge Village. The house is dated c 1730, built of pink brick with a slate mansard roof. It has a panelled hall with a carved overmantel and a stair case with barley-sugar bannisters, both features contemporary with the original house.
At Lawrence Campe Almshouses in Friern Barnet Lane, one .of the oldest buildings in the Borough, improvements and restoration have been going on for some years, and are continuing. Latest plan is for amended alterations to interiors and to the rear elevation. Most members will doubtless know this fine row of seven 2-storey red brick cottages facing the North Middlesex golf course, originally built about 1612 and renovated in 1843 and 1899. They have casement windows with stone mullions, Tudor arch doorways and an interesting line of stone plaques at first-floor level. The Heritage of London Trust – a charitable organisation set up a little while ago with GLA encouragement ‘to conserve and enhance Greater London’s architecturally significant buildings’ – made a contribution of £15,000 towards, in particular, halting and repairing the erosion of -the stone and brickwork.
WHAT’S ON ELSEWHERE
Sat Oct 20 CBA Group 7 whose territory marches with the northern boundary of LBB, and to which several HADAS members belong) is holding its AGM and Annual Conference at Campus West Theatre, Welwyn Garden City. This year’s subject is the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, with half-hour talks on each of them, starting with the Pyramids and ending with the Pharos at Alexandria. Chairman will be an old friend of HADAS’s, Dr John Alexander. AGM 10 am, epilogue 4.30. Tickets £3.20 from E J Heathman, 92 Charmouth Rd, St Albans, before Oct 10 if you want them sent by post.
Sat Nov 17 LAMAS Local History Conference, Museum of London, 11am-5.30 pm.
The theme this year (for both talks and displays) will be transport in
London, from medieval times to twentieth century air transport. Bill Firth will be arranging an exhibit for HADAS based on the contribution made by our area to the beginning of aviation. Tickets, £2.50 including tea, from Keith Bailey, 52 Revelstoke Rd, Wimbledon Park, SW18 5DP (please enclose a large sae).
Sat Nov 24 The Oxford University Dept for External Studies is organizing a day school at Bulmershe College, Woodlands Av, Earley, Reading on Historical Photographs, 10 am-4 pm, fee £6, £4.40 for OAPs – including coffee, lunch and tea. Although the afternoon sessions look specially at local (Berks & Oxon) photos, the morning sessions are on general subjects – techniques for interpreting and dating photos and the conservation and care of historic photos. Enrol with the Tutor in Charge, Woodley Hill House, Bracknell College, Eastcourt Av, Earley, Reading.
Clay Tobacco Pipes
The first Newsletter of the Society for Clay Pipe Research has recently been published. To get a sample copy and further details of how to join this new society (subscription £3), send a large sae to Mrs Philomena Jackson, 13 Sommerville Rd, Bishopston, Bristol.
Farmland .and Building. Another new society which aims to launch itself
soon is the Historic and Farmland and Buildings Group, Its inaugural meeting will take place during a weekend conference on the history and conservation of farm buildings, organised on Nov 16-18 by the Oxford University Dept. of External Studies at Rewley House, Wellington Sq, Oxford (from whom further details are obtainable).
A VIEW DOWN TWENTY-ONE CENTURIES JEAN SNELLING
Reports on the final weekend outing of 1984
Our visit to Lincoln (Sept 15-16) was packed with memorable interest thanks to Dorothy Newbury’s meticulous planning and the generous guiding of Michael Jones, David Stocker and John Welford of the Lincoln Archaeological Trust, who shared with us some archaeological highlights and problems of this remarkable city. Lincoln has so much that I can hope to give only a few outstanding impressions of a weekend that was crammed with exciting events.
The city’s position fills a river-worn gap in the north-south ridge of Jurassic limestone and climbs the northern heights. The fortified hill and inland port give splendid views from, above and below; for us, alas, lost in mist. Our hotel was high on the green hillside which provided Romans and Normans with building stone. Ermine Street, struggling up the steep slope, still forms the spine of the upper and lower Roman and medieval cities and their suburbs south of the river.
Through the medieval and sometimes regrettable modern city, the Norman castle, cathedral and ruined bishop’s palace rear up high on the hill; old fortifications all of them, built within the walls and gates of the Roman upper and lower cities. Norman stone houses for Jewish financiers and a Norman guildhall remain in the lower city and southern suburb. Deep below are the Roman remains, now emerging in excavations. The Hadrianic forum and upper city, overlying the old fortress of earth and wood, lie under castle bailey and cathedral; Roman town houses and workshops yield fragments through both cities and suburbs.
Between Romans and Normans in the lower city is a 10c Viking settlement. Lincoln being one of the five Danish boroughs. Here were wooden houses, metal workings and potsherds from the near east and from China, the result of Viking track, Below them, near the waterfront – somewhere – are thought to be the first Roman fort and the earlier Iron Age Tribal settlement.
From Norman times the medieval city flourished, keeping up its old walls and gates, making diagonal streets for short’cuts in disregard of the regular Roman plan below, building 47 churches, spreading over and beyond the old suburbs. The wool and cloth trades brought the height of prosperity, then they and the city declined together from the late 14c. Great and small buildings suffered severely in the Civil War.
Highlights for us included a descent into a house cellar in Bailgate, revealing the bases of three great columns of the Roman forum and a homely collection of mosaics and pottery. There was the sight of the Roman city wall discovered underlying the foundations of the cathedral only 2-3 weeks ago. There were all the gates to sort out – city gates, cathedral close gates sates of castle and palace, and ‘gates’ that were Danish street names. There was our discreet entry into the Vicars Choral private garden, surrounded by their lovely medieval houses. There was the extraordinary 18c chapel of the old town prison; tier upon tier of boxed cells enabling each prisoner to see no more than his own feet and the preacher’s head.
Perhaps most remarkable was the church of St Paul in the Bail. Recent excavation on this Victorian site revealed several pre-Conquest levels of a Saxon church, set low in the middle of the Roman forum. It was hoped that the undated lowest church would be the one mentioned by Bede as having been founded by Paulinus in 625-632 AD. It contained graves, one perhaps an altar-tomb with bones and an enamelled hanging bowl of a type sometimes found in Anglo-Saxon burials. Now radio-carbon dating indicates a late 4c date for the earliest bones. This raises the question of a Romano-British origin for the church, perhaps 5c; though adult burials within city walls would then have been prohibited. At present this is a puzzle with no answer.
We ended our visit at the exhibition ‘Lincoln Comes of Age’ (open for about another month) in the Greyfriars museum. Here were gathered Lincoln treasures, some usually housed far away: the bronze parade shield of Iron Age date from the river Witham; Roman inscriptions; the hanging bowl from St Paul in the Bail; the 8c Witham Pins in silver gilt, the cathedral’s original copy of Magna Carta; Jewels, tools, documents, arms and illustrations of ancient and modern life and work in Lincoln, with reminders of Lincoln Green and scarlet cloth. The exhibition reinforced our impression of the strength of archaeology in Lincoln today.
We had an SOS just as this Newsletter went to press – from Stephen Pierpoint, Finds Officer of the Greater London Archaeology unit (northern section). ‘Im writing in the hope that through your Newsletter we might get some publicity for our finds processing work,’ he says.
At the moment he is working on what he describes as “exceedingly” prolific finds from the very large Roman cemetery at Tenter Street and the site of Clerkenwell nunnery:” so there is Roman and Medieval material to be handled. There are also a few Iron Age finds from Clerkenwell Work is mainly washing and marking but there is some cataloguing.
Work takes place every Tuesday evening from 6-9 pm at the Museum Of London’s Department of Greater London Archaeology at 42 Theobalds Road, WC1. If HADAS members would prefer to help during the week, however, in normal working hours, that could be arranged.
The need is urgent. Perhaps we could form a small HADAS group to go down together regularly once or twice a week: if you would like to help, please ring Brigid Grafton Green and we will see if we can arrange a day and time when it would be convenient for several members to go together. (455 9040).