Newsletter 193: March 1987
SATURDAY 25TH ARIL, 1987:
A major seminar on Brockley Hill (Roman Sulloniacae, the only Roman settlement in Barnet) will be held on Saturday, April 25th from 2-5 pm, the principal speaker will be Stephen Castle, the previous excavator at Brockley Hill but we are hoping to have representatives from the Lee Valley Water Company to explain about the water pipeline which will be skirting the site in 1988.
Please note this date in your diary. This will be the site of the next major project for HADAS. Full details in the April newsletter. Andrew Selkirk
Wednesday March4th, (Please remember — Wednesday) “The Early Saxon Period in the London Region” by John Mills. John Mills is the West London Field Officer for the Museum of London, based at Brentford. Ten years ago there was little evidence of almost every aspect of Early Saxon archaeology in the London area.. There was no real idea as to the nature of the Late Roman/Saxon transition either in the City or its environs. In 1986 this evidence increased only slightly but includes finds of early settlement material at St Mary Cray, Clapham, and on the West London gravels. In a wider context, recent work has reviewed Saxon building types, domestic pottery, and the origins of the City of London. (This is the January lecture transferred to this date, and was intended as a runner-up to our February lecture by Alan Vince on the late Saxon and Viking period).
Wednesday April 1st “The Nanking Cargo and The China Trade” by David ‘ Lewis; (please remember Wednesday). Mr Lewis is secretary of the City of London Archaeological Society, and a member of Morley College Ceramic Circle. Members will remember seeing on TV and reading about the salvaging of the Dutch East India Company ship that went down in the South China Seas in the mid-18th century. Captain Michael Hatcher salvaged this cargo in April 1986, and Mr Lewis will give us an assessment of the cargo.
Saturday April 4th Afternoon walk in North Clerkenwell and tour of Sadler’s Wells, by Mary O’Connell. If you would like to join Mary on this walk – last year’s was excellent – please fill in the enclosed application form and return it as soon as possible with cheque.
Wednesday May 13th Annual General Meeting
Saturday May 16th Outing to Burnham Abbey/Dorney Court – Ted Sammes
Weekend Away, September 11th.- 13th Abergavenny with John Enderby
LONDON IN THE MID-SAXON AND VIKING PERIOD by Dr. Alan Vince.
Our year started a month late on 4th February, but we were rewarded for our patience with a brightly re-decorated room and a lecture of great clarity. However, Dr. Vince had to overcome the problem of “filling us in” with a much potted version of “London in the Early Saxon period” (the lecture that had been scheduled for 7th January but postponed).
During this early period, London was growing and spreading outside the walled Roman city, and its importance as an importing and exporting power was evident, Bede writing in 730 about this early period, called London “an emporium, a market of many peoples coming by land and sea”.
The Anglo Saxons from Kent moved into the deserted city and had completed its re-occupation by the 7th C. Having been converted to Christianity, in 604 they set about building a Church which was dedicated to St Paul, and it is very possibly close to the present Cathedral. From the present comparatively small number of archaeological finds it seems that London was once more importing pottery from France.
As well as being a defended city, London was now a city of some religious significance. The finds of London minted gold and silver coins both in London and on the Continent demonstrate the rising importance of London as an exporting town. As trading advanced so London continued to spread outwards from the city walls and in particular in the Strand area. The artefacts from the new archaeological sites at Jubilee Hall and Maiden Lane are revealing that this area had become a permanent settlement, the pottery sherds from Ipswich and the “quern stones” from the Rhineland are evidence of the spreading trade coming to London which at this time was being referred to as “Lindenwic”, the ending of “wic” denoting it to be either a Market town or a port. By 850 the growth and wealth of London had made it a target for the raiding Vikings, who finally captured it and over wintered in 871/2. There is evidence of their presence to be seen in the collection of battle axes and spears found in the Thames by London Bridge.
In 878 King Alfred came out of hiding after his defeat in Wessex marched, his army to London, and in a victorious battle occupied the city in 886. This occupation was celebrated with the minting of silver pennies bearing the monogram “LONDONIA”. A programme of refortification and resettlement began. Alfred is credited with .the new grid system of streets in the city which seems to have ignored the old Roman pattern. In the 9th C the city was divided into-25 wards, each containing approximately the same number of persons. By 911 the importance of London had grown, and although still not the capital city it was governed by the King’s town agent, his “portreeve”. London now began to prosper again, the Thames providing access to European trade, the markets and wharves were handling this trade, Billingsgate being one of the most important.
In the late 10th c new attacks were being mounted on London by the Danes, and in 1016 Cnut laid siege to the city. By the end of 1016 London had made peace with Cnut, buying him off with payments of “Danegeld”. During the 25 years that Cnut’s family ruled, there was a strong Scandinavian influence both in the law, culture and art.
In 1042 after the death of Cnut’s son King Harthacnut, Edward came to the throne. He was the son of the former English King Aethelred Being of a pious, nature, he spent much of his energy and money on the building of a new Abbey dedicated to St Peter at Westminster. Next to the Abbey, he built himself a hall, now at Westminster there was the royal, church and palace, this separating the busy commercial centre of the city from the royal centre. Just after the consecration of the Abbey in 1065, Edward died and Harold came to the throne – there is plenty of documentary evidence of his short reign. A.L.
I had already written my piece on the latest developments when the news came that the public enquiry into the demolition of the Grahame-White hangar has been postponed (this is official – rumour says the demolition plan has been abandoned). The reason is that in January the Department of the Environment listed the other historic buildings on the site and there is obviously no point in seeking permission to demolish one listed building (the hangar) which is surrounded by others. All sorts of interesting possibilities how open up when we have more information. Hopefully more news next month. BILL FIRTH
MESSAGE FROM MEMRERSHIP SECRETARY
I would like to welcome the following new members who joined since June 1986 Mr. M. Hoadley, Miss P. Whitehead, Miss N.W. Jackson
(Junior member) Mr. A. Simpson, Miss Z.-Tomlinson, Mr. and Mrs Dibben; Miss. .F.Young, Mr. G. Lucas, Miss A. Butterworth,
Miss M. Tobias, Mr. and Mrs. J. Day, Mr; R. Hyatt, Miss J.E. Edwards, Miss A. Balfour-Lynn, Mr. L: Devenish, Mr. R. Pemberton, Miss J. West:, Mrs. W. Wills and Edward and Anne Wills, Mr. P. Rimmer (junior member), Miss K. Watt (a junior member), Mr. R. Sellman.
Mrs. V O’Connor, Mrs. P. Taylor, Mr. D. Brooks.
Once again welcome to you all, and I hope you enjoy the many activities of the Society.
With the March issue I am sending all members a copy of the List of Members as at 1 January 1987.
PHYLLIS FLETCHER Membership Secretary
THE DEPARTMENT OF GREATER LONDON ARCHAEOLOGY Jean Snelling
The present pace of rescue excavations in Inner London is hectic, with the museum of London’s teams of archaeologists keeping just one ice-floe ahead of the developers. Among resources in short supply is labour for cleaning the finds on which the interpretation of excavations so much depends. Volunteer help from members of HADAS is valued by the North London Section of the Museum’s Department of Greater London Archaeology (former the Inner London Archaeological Unit), and more volunteers would be especially welcome at this time.
The dig at the Royal mint site is bringing up lots of potsherds from the mediaeval monastery of St Mary Graces, all needing cleaning from their long and deep burial. The mediaeval infirmary of St Mary (Spital Square) on dissolution left behind its graveyard, recently cleared from below later buildings which in turn are giving way to new even deeper ones., These human bones are destined for demographic and medical research before they are reburied in a modern cemetery, but first they need to be freed from soil, washed and dried before returning to their plastic bags, individual by individual. Soon they will be joined by older bones as the excavators tackle their third Romano-British cemetery to the south of Aldgate Station; and Roman graves sometimes yield pots and grave goods. These are not the only excavations on hand now. It is understood that not everyone wishes to clean human bones, and the pots and other general finds certainly need cleaners. However, any potential bone washer is encouraged to try – it is interesting work requiring thoughtful attention:
Most cleaning is done in the North London Section’s offices at 3-7 Ray Street, London EC1R 3DJ; telephone 01-837 8363. This is on the second floor of a Victorian warehouse, via the second front entrance, and is centrally heated. It is very much an excavation headquarters, with archaeologists coming and going from sites, plans being made and reports written, and there is a friendly atmosphere. Ray Street is off Farringdon Road, north of the Clerkenwell Road crossing, and is 8-10 Minutes’ walk from Farringdon underground station. There is a cleaning session on Tuesday evenings, 6.30 – 9.00 pm; otherwise work is done while the office is open, Monday-Friday, 9.00 am – 5.00 pm. There is no weekend working.
If you are interested and could offer say a half day (or longer) a week for a while, please telephone the office and possibilities. Previous experience is helpful but not essential. There is no help available for travelling expenses: but hours can be arranged to take advantage of cheap fares. An apron and rubber gloves come in handy, and it is not a job to be done in tidy clothes.
The following sites, the subject of recent Planning Applications, could be of possible archaeological interest: Members are asked to keep an eye on their development and report anything of an unusual nature to John Enderby on 01 203 2630.
22, King Edward Road, New Barnet
The Hollies and Meadowbank, Barnet Road, Arkley
Dingle Ridge and rear of The Brambles, Barnet Road, Arkley
Glyn Avenue; New Barnet
22, King Edward Road, New Barnet
Elizabeth Allen School,
Wood Street, Chipping Barnet
1266-1284 High Road, N20 Adj. 86, Galley Lane, Arkley
“Little Pipers”, Hadley Green Road, Barnet .
2, Frith Manor Cottages, Lullington Garth, N12
164, East End. Road,.N2
261-268 Regents Park .Road, N3
Christ Church Vicarage, High Road, N12
Junction of Bridge Lane and A406
Little Manor, Barnet. Lane,
12, Brockley Avenue, Stanmore
1, Pipers Green Lane, Edgware
The Chantry, Barnet Lane Elstree
“The Stables” Brockley Hill, Stanmore
NEWS OF HADAS EXCAVATIONS BRIAN WRIGLEY
It seems to be for years now we have been talking about that archaeological investigation we should be able to make on this site when the development starts. Now at last we have news that work will start this year, and we are in contact with the London Borough of Barnet to discuss facilities for a dig and for watching the site as development work proceeds. If we are to dig any trial trenches, we are told it will have to be before demolition and development start, and we can only dig on ground that is at present exposed (which in effect means gardens of houses at present standing empty)
Of what interest is the site? We do not know of any archaeological discoveries in. the area. What we do know, is that the main road, once the Great North Road, has been an important route to the North for many centuries – the very road where, Edward of York barred the passage to London of Warwick the Kingmaker in 1471. One wonders how long it had been there – one doesn’t have to go all that far back from Henry II to be in Saxon times … when this area was part of the forest of Southaw belonging to the Abbots of St Albans. The parish church of St John the Baptist is said to have been originally erected about the middle of the 13th century.
Now whereabouts was this settlement? The Church of St John the Baptist stands at the more or less equiangular Y junction of the Great. North Road and Wood Street. The earliest map we have so far, a manor map of 1817 (of somewhat uncertain scale)-shows buildings along all three arms of the Y radiating from the Church; the arm to the north, which is the High Street, appears to have had buildings all along its west side, as far as what is now the junction with St Albans Road (not then built although the High Street apparently widened at this point). The 1872 6-inch OS map shows “Market Place” at this junction. Was it the market place already before then? There certainly has been a market just about there ever since first the Victorian cattle market building, and now Barnet Stall Market on the same site. It would seem likely that the part of the road called High Street, between Parish church and market place, should be an area of early settlement.
So where does the Stapylton Road development site fit into this. It lies to the west of the High Street, behind the shops, from a point about 130 metres north of the church, to a point just short of the Stall Market the part nearest to the High Street is the back gardens of some villas, about 20 metres from the High Street, so that (to judge from the 1817 map) at that point one is within the “back yards” of the 1817 buildings fronting on to the High Street.
Should we take this chance of excavating here? The Excavation Working Party certainly unanimously think we should at least do some trial trenching here – it is surely an opportunity not to be passed up. So we are planning, subject to arrangement of details with the Borough (and to weather) to open up at the weekend of the 21st March, and continue as necessary; whether we dig during the week or only at weekends will depend on how many members would like to take part., and when they are available. Are you interested? If so, please get in touch with Brian Wrigley, 21 Woodcroft Avenue NW7 2AH, telephone 01-059.5982, or Victor Jones, 78 Temple Fortune Lane,.NW11 7TT, telephone 01-458 6180.
WATLING CAR .PARK SITE, BURNT OAK – A Final Report on Resistivity
Survey and Excavation
Following the report on the resistivity survey (Newsletter 190, December 1986) three trial trenches were opened in the places suggested.—the results could be summarised very briefly, as follows:
“Zees iss your Resistance Group reporting – rid keffally, oui ouill say this only wernce…. oui ave dug at Watling Car Park and found there is nothing of archaeological importance there.”
However, considering the amount of work put in by Alan Lawson, Victor Jones, George Sweetland, Alan Simpson, Ann Young and Paul Dimmer, with. tea provided by Joan Wrigley, perhaps a few more words of explanation are called for.
Referring back to the interim report in Newsletter 190, Grid 2 showed what we thought was a linear feature; we put Trench I, 3 metres x 1 metre, across the line of this and indeed found a linear feature, a clinker path a few inches below the turf including modern sherds and some enameled metal wire, and clearly too recent to be of interest.
Grid 3 showed no regular pattern; we put Trench. II, 7 metres x- 1 metre, across it and found no regular pattern in the clay, ash and clinker- which was under the turf with occasional modern, glazed sherds, metal ware and rubbish. In the one place where we went a little deeper -we found natural within 0.5: m depth. The amount of rubbish deposit seemed adequate explanation of the random resistivity appearances. ,
At point A, where we thought the resistance results might indicate a pit, we put Trench III, one metre square later irregularly extended.. We indeed found a pit – you’ve guessed it: filled with modern rubbish and clinker; next to it was a patch of fire-reddened clay (which we actually came across first and got quite excited about). However, from their level it seems most likely the fire-patch and the pit are associated and result from the burning and’ then burying of rubbish. The rubbish appeared to be of hospital type, including remains of a bed-pan and urine bottle.
To sum up, we concluded that this patch of wasteland has been used over a period as a dumping-ground, probably by the old people’s home just over the other side of the stream, and our resistivity meter has worked admirably well in showing the distribution of modern rubbish. The negative archaeological result is something to bear in mind when the question arises of site watching as and when the proposed development of the rest of the development site goes ahead.
As I said before we started to dig, that I would only be bitterly disappoints if we failed even to find any explanation for the resistivity results! Well, we certainly achieved that and gathered some confidence in our interpretation of those results. We believe we have evolved a technique for much speedier surveys and greater reliability in the equipment; we hope to go on to confirm and improve this in the coming season, in the projected investigations of Stapleton Rd. the water pipeline and Brockley Hill. New participants in resistivity work would be most welcome. BRIAN WRIGLEY