Newsletter No 168: February 1985
WHAT’S ON IN HADAS
Tues Feb 5 ‘(not Feb 9, as misprinted in the January Newsletter) Writing in Roman Britain: Evidence from Vindolanda and Bath By Mark Hassall MA FSA
Mark Hassall is a lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology and is known:to many of our members. We particularly remember his entertaining and informative lecture in February, 1980, on the ::o an ‘Codex Spirensia’ – in other words, Roman red tape, a commodity which was as.evident then as it is now. This year he will talk to us about further evidence of Roman writing which has come to light at Vindolanda and Bath.
Tues March 5 Our annual Constantinides lecture, this time on the West Heath excavations of 1976-81
By Daphne Lorimer
Tues Apr 2 Aerial Photography Christopher Stanley
Tues May 14 Annual General Meeting
All the above will take place at Central Library, The Burroughs, Hendon NW 4. Coffee 8 pm, lecture 8.30.
Sat May 18 Outing to Cambridge led by Andrew Powell
Fri/Sun June 21/23 Weekend in south Cumbria ” “- Isobel McPherson
AND WHAT’S ON ELSEWHERE
Tues Feb 8-24. Last year oral historians had a festival of their own which was so successful that it is to be repeated this year for a full fortnight. Organised by the Exploring Living Memory Group at the Royal Festival Hall, it will include workshops, exhibits, stalls, discussions, films and videos. Groups from all over London who are interested in taping oral history and reminiscences are invited to attend. Contact Mona, Rodney or Gemma at 42 Queen Square, WC1 for further details – phone 831 8871.
Thur Feb 14 at 8 pm, Burgh House, New End Square, NW3.
The monthly lecture of the Hampstead Scientific Society will be on ‘New Developments in Radiocarbon Dating’ by Dr Robert Hedges of Oxford University. Visitors welcome, admission
Sat Feb 16. The next CBA Group conference will be on ‘The Impact of Metal: Gold, Bronze, Iron, with special reference to Southern Britain,’ at St John’s College, Cambridge. Speakers will include Professor Colin Renfrew, Professor John Coles and. Dr John Alexander. Tickets (£3 including coffee) from Mrs J Pullinger, 31 Rustat Road, Cambridge CB1 3QR, by Feb 9 (include a sae)
WHAT’S HAPPENED TO “ POPULAR ARCAHAEOLOGY”
“Popular archaeology” is/was (and it’s a measure of the of the problem we’re discussing that we don’t know which tense to use.) a lively monthly magazine which many HADAS members must know. It began publication in July 1979, under the prestigious editorship of Magnus Magnusson with Professor Barri Jones of Manchester University as associate editor.
From the outset it seemed to find a niche which no one else had quite filled. It was to the world of archaeological journals what Shire books are to book publishing using material simply and clearly written and brightly presented with many pictures, so that the uninitiated could understand and enjoy it; yet with enough hard fact, and the ability to find the unexpected story, so that even the insiders had to watch it in case some nugget of information slipped by. A good example of the kind of article no one would want to miss (be he never so academic) was Professor Martin Biddle’s exposition, in the July 1984 issue, of the positioning of the settlement of Anglo-Saxon London along the Strand in the 7th-9th centuries AD.
The magazine was obtainable either through local newsagents (that was how the Newsletter’s copy came) or on subscription. When the magazine stopped coming, we complained. The newsagent went into action, at first without result. Finally he came up with the fact that no issues had been published after August 1984.
The August issue had been perfectly normal, with all the usual features, including and expanding “Spoilheap” news paragraphs, letters, boor reviews and many longer articles on such subjects as Peruvian archaeology (its international flavor was one of the magazine’s attractions) on the use of statistics in archaeology and on the history of boats. Not a word, syllable or suggestion in that issue that the magazine was about to sink without trace like a Marie Celeste of the journalistic world.
We couldn’t believe it, so we rang the “Pop. Arch” office in Bath. What’s going on? we asked. There was a heavy pause. “Well,” said a slightly hesitant voice, There’s been a hiatus….” (that’s a familiar factor in the newspaper world).
“ Do you mean you haven’t completely stopped publication?” we asked. “Oh no,” the voice became more confident. “We haven’t published since August, it’s true, but we’re sure going to get the January issue out.”
Well, as this is written, it’s the third week in January and we haven’t seen any sign of “Pop Arch” yet. We’re keeping our fingers crossed – because without it that niche is going to look very empty.
THE HEROES OF REGENTS PARK. The HADAS January lecture is reported by JOHN CREIGHTON.
Despite snow and ice which hindered many-members from attending, ‘a small, cold, but cheery band turned up to listen to Dr Anne Satnders third talk on the history and development of the parish of Tyburn, which by the end of the lecture had emerged as the Regents Park we know today,for Dr Saunders the story had three heroes: John Fordyce, the Prince Regent and of course John Nash.
In 1760 on the accession of George III all the crown ‘estates, which included the parish of Tyburn,. were transferred from the King’s direct control to that of a government commission on woods, forests and land revenues; It was in 1788 that John Fordyce, a civil servant from Aberdeen, found himself on this board and realised what a potentially valuable site they had on their hands. London was expanding and only the fact that this land was crown property had prevented its development so far.
A competition was announced to design plans for it and for the creation of a road to link the site with Westminster; the prize being £1000. Unfortunately there were only three entries, all by the same man, John White, surveyor to the Duke of Portland who owned the estate directly to the south. His plans basically proposed a mere extension of the existing pattern of streets around it. Fordyce was unimpressed and categorically refused any development on the site, waiting for what he thought to be the right time and the right plan.
Next Dr Saunders turned to the Prince Regent who, with his tremendous creative flare, she thought he might well have become a film set designer had he been alive today.’ He watched Napoleon recreating and moulding Paris, and saw the development of Mary-le-bone Park as his opportunity to do the same for London. Through landscape gardener Humphrey Repton he found the man for the job – John Nash.
Nash’s early career had not been a great success: becoming bankrupt in London he went to Wales on all kinds of jobs from designing gaols to working on country houses. After, meeting the Prince and building Brighton Pavilion his standing rose and he was appointed as an architect on the woods, forests and land revenues commission.
Fordyce had died in 1809, but it was apparent that Nash, with his patron behind him, was the man for the job. An ‘in house’ competition was organised between the commission’s surveyors, Leverton and Chawner, and the architects Nash and Morgan. Nash’s scheme appeared: both the more pleasing and the most Profitable. He envisaged a combination of the crescents of Bath, the terraces of Edinburgh and the town houses of London, all surrounding a landscaped park scattered with over fifty villas.
His financial calculations showed that the laying out of the park would cost £12000 with the annual income from the leases to build the terraces and villas being £54000. The Treasury gave their assent, although stipulating a reduced number of 26 villas. In 1811 the first trees were planted. However there was trouble ahead: it was war time and with the possibility of Napoleon invading no one in their right mind wanted to invest in land. None of the leases would sell, the only exception being the land on which the Queen’s Head and Artichoke stood, which the tenant publican purchased. Another problem emerged about the projected canal whose water source promptly ran out.
In 1815 Waterloo brought the war to an end; but things did not look up until in 1818 another Scotsman, James Burton, took an interest, believing that there would soon be a property boom. He was right; by 1825 all the leases had been sold and were being developed and the park took off.
Nash’s plans were not fully realised as not all the prospective villas were built; that is probably just as well, for the Park would have been much more cluttered than it is. Terraces were never built to the north, instead it was decided to hand over a plot either to a zoological garden or to London University. Apparently general feeling was that lions were preferable to students any day, so the Zoological Society found its home.
Dr Saunders, finished the evening with some slides showing scenes from a particularly outlandish villa called St Dunstans, built for the Marquess of Hertford by James Burton’s son Decius. The building, alas, is no longer with us, however paintings show the garden to have been scattered with Roman antiquities and one of the interiors to have been modelled on an Arabian tent.
Alto ether a most enjoyable evening.
All who were in at the start of the West Heath dig in 1976 will remember one of our most enthusiastic diggers of those days – ‘Pip’ Sanders – and will be sad to hear of her death.
Pip joined the Society in 1973, already an experienced amateur archaeologist who had worked for some years with the Southwark society. She took part in the Church Terrace dig and then West Heath, but a major operation in summer 1977 prevented further active work.
Although she remained a member, we heard little from her of recent years, and know that her health was declining. Last month Pip’s sister, Mrs Helen Church, wrote:
“My sister died in early December after a long illness and much suffering. The last eighteen months was spent in the Marie Curie Nursing Home in Hampstead where she was wonderfully looked after, with great care and love, by the entire staff.
She had been almost completely immobile for the last 13 months, with only the use of her right hand. Her brain was still alert though, and she still took a great interest in all her old hobbies. We used to read as much as possible of the Newsletter to her.
Would you pass the news to anyone who you think would be interested? Pip was cremated at Golders Green, and we had her ashes buried at the old parish church of St John in Hampstead. She had worked for the Medical Research Council at Hampstead and Mill Hill for forty years.”
All Pip’s friends will, we know, want to join in sending our sympathy to Mrs Church.
HOW RIPPLES FROM WEST HEATH SPREAD
The effects of West Heath Phase I continue to widen out like ripples on a pond. In November Nature published a report on the joint meeting in Oxford last autumn of the Botanical Society of the British Isles and the Association for Environmental Archaeology (Nature vol. 312, 8 Nov 1984, p103). The headline on the report was ‘Hampstead Heath clue to historical decline of elms’ and one of the high spots of the meeting was clearly Maureen Girling’s announcement of the discovery of wing cases from an interesting beetle in sediments just 10 cm below the elm decline at a site on Hampstead Heath, London. The beetle she identifies as Soolytus scolytus, the carrier of the fungus, Ceratocystis ulmi, that is the cause of Dutch elm disease.”
The report continues: “The proposal that the decline of elm 5000 years ago was the product of a disease is not in itself new … It has became increasingly attractive, even compulsive, as we have observed the recent effects of Dutch elm disease on elm populations. But healthy speculation foods tenon circumstantial evidence and here, at last, we seem to have it. If the beetle vector was here 5000 years ago, perhaps the disease was too. Was the sudden onset of the disease the result of early forestry? And how do we explain the concurrent decline in some other trees, such as lime? The answers are still not clear, and can never be entirely testable, but the new evidence will provide the necessary momentum for renewed vigour in an old debate. A few days later Radio 4’s Science Now programme also got into the act, no doubt picking up its information from Nature. It spread the news of Scolytus scolytus’s activities on Hampstead Heath further afield.
MORE ABOUT MICROFICHE
We have had some reaction from members who have views on the increasing use of microfiche – a subject which was aired in the last Newsletter. One phone call was terse and to the point. ‘If More microfiche means less of the monumental turgidity that now bogs down:
archaeological reports,’ it said, ‘for pete’s sake let’s have a lot more microfiche.’
PADDY MUSGROVE put it more elegantly. “Readers of the January Newsletter are asked ‘What do you think of microfiche?'” he wrote. “The printed text must obviously be sufficiently detailed to enable the reader to evaluate the evidence on which the excavator’s conclusions are based, but most readers would probably be content to learn, for example that a certain hoard contained 237 coins dated between this and that. The numismatist, of course, may wish to consult the Microfiche, but how often will this need occur? When it does, the academic will almost certainly have a microfiche reader readily available. Others might well try having a word with a friendly local librarian.
The advantages of cutting down on long lists of similar artifacts and the like which -‘let’s be honest– not one reader in a hundred will ever study in detail, are clear. Savings in shelf-space, paper, energy and hard cash should lead to funds being available for more and improved reports on other sites.”
Paddy also suggested that we ask the Borough Librarian whether, in moments of crisis (which are likely to be pretty rare) HADAS members might take a fiche into their local library and ask to use the reading machine there. This seemed an excellent idea, so we had a word with Mr Ruddom.
He told us that all branch libraries in the Borough (there are some 21 or 22, we believe) have fiche-reading facilities, because the Libary catalogue itself is on fiche. Some of the smaller branches, however, have only one machine, on the main desk, for readers who want to consult the catalogue, so there might be problems in taking in fiche material that you wanted to pore over for some time. Larger libraries have several machines – Hendon has 7 in different parts of the library, Church End Finchley has 4 or 5.
In Mr. Ruddom’s opinion the libraries would want to help with this problem. He suggested the best procedure would be for a would-be fiche user to give the nearest largish library a ring, explain the difficulty and ask if there was any time when it would be convenient for the librarian to make a machine available. Every effort, he thought, would be made to provide the required reading facility.
NEWS FROM MEMBERS
Early in January GEORGE INGRAM’s granddaughter rang up to say that George had had a further eye operation in Edgware General Hospital. He had come through it well but would not know how successful the surgery had been until the eye recovered sufficiently for a new pair of spectacles to be fitted. A few days later George himself rang to say he was out of hospital and hoped fairly soon to go for a couple of weeks convalescence. “My bad eye has become, for the moment, my good eye,” he said, “but I’m not blind I can see enough to dial your
number, and I can read the HADAS members list if I hold it at the right angle and about four inches away …” HADAS sends George its very best wishes – and its hope that-when the new glasses come, the reading problems will move away.
Our Treasurer, VICTOR JONES, is becoming ‘peripatetic -‘the eternal traveller. He’s gone off again to southern India, this time accompanied by his daughter, for a trip lasting some 31/2 weeks. They plan to visit Delhi on the way back.
HOMO ERECTUS – NEW AND FULLER EVIDENCE FROM CHINA
AUBREY HODES, who has sent us several interesting despatches from his outpost in China, accompanied his last letter with some cuttings from the English language China Daily, describing the discovery of new evidence for Homo erectus.. There has been some reference to this most important find – which provides much fresh material about the evolution of man – in the British press, but we have not seen anything as full as the China Daily report, which is by Professor Lu Zun’er, the Director of the excavating team. We therefore make no apology for quoting liberally from it, and we thank the China Daily for its full and excellent coverage and Aubrey for his kindness in sending the cuttings.
Here are the details:
The unprecedented discovery of almost all the vital bones of Homo erectus, believed to give scientists important clues in their research on the species of man dating from 200,000 to one million years ago, was made in late September and early October at Jinniu Shan (gold Ox Hill) in Yinkou County, Liaoning Province.,
The Solitary hill, nearly 70 metres above sea level, is made of limestone, marble and other rock. In a 1974 survey of ancient relics scattered throughout the province fossils were found on six spots on the hill.
Archaeologists from the provincial relics bureau discovered a great number of fossils of mammals, a few stone tools, burned animal bones and carbon remains. The eight-member team (from the Archaeology Dept of Beijing University, under Lu Zun’er, vice-dean of the University Archaeology Dept) first focused their work on the cave on the southern slope. A kneecap was found on Sept 27. Soon the team discovered the bones of the heel, toes, a metatarsal (instep) bone, carpal (wrist) bones, metacarpals and phalanges (fingers and toes) in the cave.
The well-preserved fossilised head was found on October 2 stuck among breccia (stones cemented together). The head bones were picked out after three days. Meanwhile, parts of the spine, ribs, ulna (an arm bone) and hip were also uncovered.
Also unearthed were fossils of the thick-jawed deer, wild boar, brown bear, hyena, tiger, wolf, rhinoceros, macaque and rodents.
Evidence of the use of fire, such as burned clay, carbon and burned animal bones have led us to believe that the cave was the “ape-man’s” home.
Judging by the fossils of the thick-jawed deer and sabre-toothed tiger, which are more than 200,000 years old, the geological age of the site is the mid-Pleistocene epoch and the fossils of Homo erectus found there are as old as those of Peking Man, dating from 200,000- 600,000 years ago. However, the exact aged, is still to be decided through a Series of tests.
Fossils of Homo erectus have been found at more than eight places in China but they are mostly bones of the skull, lower jaw, a few teeth and other fragments.:
The discovery in Yinkou is a breakthrough because, except for the lower jaw, all the head bones were found and bones of the spine, ulna, ribs, hands and feet wore all found for the first time anywhere.
The fossils have aroused great attention among top Chinese archaeologists and anthropologists. They provide ‘rich and all-round material’ for research on Human evolution, and have been hailed as one of the most important archaeological finds in China in the last 50 years.
Because of the shortage of first-hand data, previous speculation about the upright posture and walking gait of Homo erectus was based on studies of fossils of apes, living apes and modern man.
The discovery of bones of the spine, ribs, hip, kneecap feet in Yinkou thus become the direct and most reliable material in this field of research. Bones of the hands and ulna, spine and hip are indispensable for research on early man’s ability to move the upper body and, to use his hands in working, especially in making tools.
The completeness of the head bones (including the whole skull, cheek bones and teeth) will provide more reliable data for reconstructing the facial features of Homo erectus, for studying brain capacity and for looking into the relationship between tooth wear and age.
Professor Lu is of the opinion that more bones of Homo erectus may await discovery at Gold Ox Hill, in a cave near the foot of the slope.
*Note: the remains of Peking, Man were found some 57 years ago,
also in a cave-site, at Zhoukoudian, near Beijing, about 400 kilometres southwest of the Yinkou find site.
The following sites – which might be of some archaeological interest – have appeared on recent planning application lists:
Land at rear Brockley Hill,
No 3 Pipers Green Lane detached house
(any trenches cut in this area are worth watching
for possible Roman interest)
Hoppings timber yard, High Road, N20 warehouse, offices,
(a site on an old road and near a road junction)
54 Ashley Lane, Hendon NW4 6 houses, access road, extension
of metalling of Ashley Lane
(Ashley Lane is another old road. George Cavendish, in his Life of Wolsey – pub. 1557 – describes the Cardinal staying overnight at Hendon Place with the Abbot of Westminster and then setting off for York with his train of servants, going along Ashley Lane, along the Ridgeway and up Highwood Hill.
Other cause for interest in the area is that the Roman road of which HADAS found part on its way across Copthall Fields might, had its suggested line been extended, have reached Ashley Lane near the place of this development).
St Mary’s Croft Fortune Lane, Elstree erection of conservatory
(trenches in the Elstree area are always worth looking at because of Roman connections)
Hadley Memorial Hall Hadley Highstone, demolition of non-listed
Barnet building & erection of new ‘hall
(another archaeologically sensitive area of the Borough because of its connections with the Battle of Barnet)
Any member who, when passing one of the above sites, notices signs of demolition or building work, is asked to let either John Enderby (203 2630) or Christine Arnott (455 2751) know.
Development has been approved by the Borough on two sites in which the Society is interested:
Old Fold Golf Club: car parking for 42 vehicles approved, following landscaping. This work will be close to one of the two medieval moats in our Borough and there is also the site of a possible Medieval fish-pond.
16 Grass Park, Finchley: an extension approved. This area is near the site of the medieval Grotes Farm (see Newsletter 163, p 5).
THE GOLDEN AGE OF ANGLO–SAXON ART by TED SAMMES
This exhibition opened at the British Museum on Nov 9 and will run until March 10 next. It covers the century between 966-1066 AD ‑ the last century of Anglo-Saxon England. The display is in the new wing, gallery entrance is £2; or senior citizens and some others £1.
In 966 King Edgar refounded the New Minster at Winchester and this forms the starting point for the exhibition.
Prominent amongst the exhibits is the gold and enamelled Alfred’s Jewel.’ This, like many other items, has a small cubical case to itself, and can be examined from all sides.
I think I was most impressed by the number and quality of the manuscripts. Despite their age, the colours are still clear. It is difficult to give examples, but the page from the Copenhagen Gospels and a map of the world, part of a collection of mathematical and astronomical texts, shows the level of non-liturgical learning at that period. Of interest too is an illustrated herbal made up of material of the llth-13th centuries. There are also part of a bell foundry mould and a comprehensive collection of coins.The book which accompanies the exhibition is a textbook in itself, profusely illustrated and costing £7.50
And if you are hooked on Anglo-Saxon Art, you may like to know that this will be the subject of one of the Madingley Hall residential study weekends recently announced by the Cambridge Extramural Board. It will be held from Sept 20-22, with Dr Isabel Henderson as lecturer, at fee of £45. -Further details from Madingley Hall, Madingley, Cambridge.
SUMMER STUDY TOURS
Incidentally, the Cambridge Board of Extra-Mural Studies has a very varied programme. Most of its one-day and residential courses are based at 16th c Madingley Hall, 4 miles outside Cambridge; but it also runs non-Madingley courses and this year has added some interesting Foreign Study Tours to its list:
The Archaeology of Brittany and Poitou – MAY 2 weeks
Roman Provence, early September, one week
The Greek Cities of Asia Minor September 2 weeks
Ancient China August 11 – Sept 1st
Brochures with further details obtainable from the Warden at Madingley.
NEW MEMBERSHIP LIST
Enclosed with this Newsletter you will find a new membership list, giving details of everyone who is a member at January 1, 1985. The list is circulated to all members every two years; in the intervening year, although a new membership list is prepared, it is sent only to those who specifically ask for it, and to new members.
It would be kind if you would check your own entry. Should there be any mistake please give Phyllis Fletcher, our Membership Secretary a ring and let her know. You’ve no idea how difficult it is to type absolutely correctly a list of several hundred names, addresses and phone numbers!
SOCIETY FOR LANDSCAPE STUDIES
This Society was formed in 1979 to bring together all who are interested in the evolution of the landscape, and to encourage a wider enthusiasm for landscape studies in general. It deals with all periods from the Geological to the present, but pays special attention to features produced or modified by man.
Membership costs £9 per annum (students under 25 and 0AP’s £5.50). For this you get the society’s journal, Landscape History and a Newsletter. The programme includes an Annual Lecture and a residential weekend conference.
‘Further details obtainable from the society’s secretary, A J R Wood, Sites & Monuments Record, County Architect’s Dept, County Hall, Beverley, Humberside, HU17 9BA.