Newsletter 201: November 1987 Edited by Jean Snelling
DIARY Dorothy Newbury
Wednesday November 4th
Late Celtic Art in Britain and Ireland Dr Graham Campbell.
Dr Campbell is Reader in Medieval Archaeology in the History Department of University College, London. He has lectured to the Irish Archaeological Society in Eton Square, who gave me his name. I am sure this will be a most enjoyable lecture.
Saturday November 28th
LAMAS Local History Conference. Theme, ‘London Spas & Pleasure Gardens’. Details in October Newsletter.
Wednesday December 9th
Join us at the Museum of London and at the ‘Crowders Well’, Barbican for Christmas Dinner afterwards. (See separate notice and application form.)
TUESDAY – TUESDAY – TUESDAY January 3th
Aspects of Work for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Phillip Venning.
Tuesday February 2nd
The Romans in Rumania Margaret Roxan
Tuesday March 1st
Tythe Maps Geraldine Beach
THE MINIMART, September 26th 1987
The panic is over once more and in spite of our ‘lower key’ efforts (I didn’t really notice any difference) we have again reached the £900 clear profit level – and still rising. In some ways the organising becomes a little easier each year as the handful of stalwart, regular workers take over their respective duties without direction. I will not name them individually, but the remainder of the membership I am sure are very grateful to all of them for raising such a magnificent sum for the Society once again. Thanks also must go to members and friends who send in such saleable goods. We seem always to hit the jack-pot by having a couple of members moving house and we receive all their surplus belongings.
We had a warm sunny Saturday, attendance was up, more members of the public were coming in and it was lovely to see many old faces again. We even had Mr & Mrs Spiegelhalter all the way from Devon. And while clearing up, the nicest thing we heard was from a couple of exhausted helpers saying – ‘It was good fun wasn’t it’.
Thanks to everyone.
(And what about thanks from all the rest of us to that moving spirit D. Newbury? Editor)
THE SPIRES DEVELOPMENT, STAPYLTON HOAD, CHIPPING BARNET
As the result of a meeting between HADAS and Barnet Museum on October 13th it was decided, that special teams should be organised to site-watch the development above. These teams will comprise members of both HADAS and Barnet Local History Society, who run Barnet Museum.
Lovell’s, the site developers, have agreed to extend their legal agreement with Barnet Council by allowing named persons access to the building site while mechanical digging is taking place. The JCBs will be moving in some time in December and making a start on the basement for the multi-storey car park. Lovells estimate that they will excavate down to about 3½ metres, so something of interest may be churned up…. Excavations will continue into January and we shall therefore need to keep a regular eye on the site for approximately two months.
I need to get together two teams of victims (sorry, volunteers).
Volunteers who will have a look at the site, say, once a week, morning or afternoon, chat to the site foremen, and check if the JCBs are to be used that morning/afternoon. If mechanical digging is to take place, these volunteers will then contact a member of Team Two. So, if you have a little time to spare during the day, live in or very near Barnet, and could offer your services on this Team, please let me know.
Volunteers with archaeological experience/training who will observe while mechanical digging is actually in progress and watch out for anything of archaeological importance which may come to light.
I shall be liaising between HADAS, Barnet Museum and Lovells to try to organise a rota of sitewatchers and access to the site, so if you can help in either team please let me know as soon as possible on 440 3254 (preferably after 6.30pm).
OUTING TO WIMBLEDON VILLAGE AMD SOUTHSIDE HOUSE. Micky O’Flynn
Results of the previous day’s storm were clearly in evidence on October 17th as we drove down to Wimbledon; but for the 20 members who made the journey the elements were kind and except for one brief heavy shower we had a mild sunny day.
We met our guide and local resident John Barrett outside two pubs, both with C17 origins and standing on Cromwell’s half acre; so named because Oliver Cromwell’s father once owned the land. These are the Crooked Billet (meaning, trimmings of the oak tree) and the Hand in Hand (one-time winner of the Evening Standard Pub of the Year). Our walk took us around the edges of Wimbledon Common and past many interesting houses. Gothic Lodge (1760) is said to be the first house which was completely lit by electricity, William Priest the telecommunication innovator having lived there. However in recent times its past history has been overshadowed by the IRA bomb of Friday 13th November 1981. Sir Michael Havers then owned the house and the bomb caused £100,000 of damage but thankfully no injuries.
Another house with an interesting history is Rushmere House (1788) built by David Watney. He had been found on the Common as an abandoned baby by a local farmer, who kept saying “What Name?” (shall we call him). This was to become his surname Watney. One of David’s three sons, John, went on to found the Watney Brewery. Other buildings of note are King’s College School consisting of three parts dated C18, C19 and C20; Westside House (1760) where Spencer Gore lived, first Men’s Singles Champion, Wimbledon, 1877; Chester house (1670) now Barclays Bank staff training centre; and Worsley House (1900) former home of Lord Russell of Liverpool and more lately of Julie Andrews. The oldest house in Wimbledon is Eagle House (1613).
Wimbledon Common extends for 1,100 acres; although Princess Diana’s father Earl Spencer is lord of the manner in name, it is run by eight conservators. Three are appointed by the government and five by the residents, who pay rates to the conservators for the upkeep of the Common. In the past conservators have prevented enclosure of the land and property development of the area called Caesar’s Camp, dating from 250 BC. The Common has been put to varied use, and has been previously the site of the Royal Tournament, the National Shooting Tournament, military manoeuvres, and numerous duels. On Saturday however its atmosphere was more peaceful and dog walking seemed to be the major occupation.
The second half of our visit was a tour of Southside House. This is quite unlike most houses open to the public in that the atmosphere is of a home, not a museum or gallery; indeed the present owner Major Munthe whose family has had the house since 1687 still lives there. The house is made the more unique by its exceptional collection of paintings, mainly family portraits, by painters such as Rouselle, Van Dyke, Hogarth and Burne-Jones; and by its collection of family souvenirs. Our knowledgeable guide Wendy Bath recounted stories concerning the fascinating objects and the escapades of family members appearing in the portraits. Among the objects seen were Queen Anne Boleyn’s vanity case, Marie Antoinette’s lost pearl necklace later owned by Josephine Bonaparte, gifts and photographs from royal visitors and friends. There is the Prince of Wales Room where Frederick Prince of Wales and later King Edward Vilas Prince of Wales stayed during manoeuvres. The music room houses C18 furniture acquired on Grand Tours through Prance and Italy, and also two giant Chinese vases which “fell off the back of a camel”. A matching pair, a present from the Emperor of China to the Tsar, can now be seen in the Kremlin. The Painted Tapestry Room has a powder closet, for repowdering one’s wig after riding across the Common from London.
There is much more but I will stop here and just encourage others to visit on another occasion. This has two motives in that I’m sure they like us will have an enjoyable day but also, sad to say, repairs have still to be made from firebombs on Southside House during the war, so all money received is desperately needed.
I must lastly, on behalf of all those who went, thank Mary O’ Connell for organising such a splendid trip, as I know it was appreciated by Everyone.
MEDIEVAL PARISH CHURCHES IN MIDDLESEX Peter Pickering
The autumn lecture series began on October 7th by Bridget Cherry. She is editor of the indispensable Penguin series ‘the Buildings of England’ and her talk displayed the encyclopaedic learning that we all expect from those books.
Middlesex is not wealthy in old churches. There have perhaps never been more than eighty. It is not therefore the result of the ravages of time or even of suburban development, but perhaps of the absence of rich patrons anxious to glorify God. Mrs Cherry found however many gems for us to admire and architectural problems to ponder.
She took us through the range of architectural styles, and through the old county of Middlesex from Laleham, now annexed by Surrey, in the south-west to Stepney, long since annexed by London, in the east, and strayed into Hertfordshire with Monken Hadley. On the way we saw the Norman doorway of Harlington, its beakheads paralleled in Lincoln Cathedral, the modest Northolt, the nave of Hayes, and Ruislip. Mrs Cherry drew attention particularly to churches which had expanded without losing their early heart – Finchley, Hendon, Uxbridge – and her own local Hackney, where only the tower of the medieval church survives. There are, we learnt, some 30 medieval towers in Middlesex, all to the west, several with the characteristic corner turret rising above the main tower.
Some of Mrs Cherry’s appreciative audience will have been set longing for an opportunity of excavating and elucidating the complex architectural history of these churches. I was made to regret my ignorance, and the few I have yet seen; and to wonder whether HADAS might visit some of them, arranging, for those locked to keep out vandals to be opened to let in enthusiasts.
HADAS SOUTH WALES WEEKEND – discovering our Welsh Heritage –
An expectant party of 23, later joined by three more by car, left Hendon by coach in sunshine on September 11th. Accompanied by Barry Owen of the Welsh Tourist Board who proved to be an eloquent erudite son of the Rhondda by teaching us basic Welsh, we sped quickly down the M4-.
We were fortunate not to experience any delay in crossing the Severn Toll Bridge. Now that we were in Wales the scenery changed dramatically. The Marches gave way to the more gentle landscape of the Wye Valley and our first visit – Tintern Abbey. To those of us glimpsing for the first time the awe inspiring splendour of this Cistercian Abbey, one could appreciate the quality of its romantic appeal in a picture book setting that had our cameras clicking. The lower Wye Valley has been settled since prehistoric times. Bronze Age barrows, Iron Age hill forts and evidence of Romano- British occupation abound on the 3,000 acres of land which formed the estate of the Abbey. Thus the stature of the Abbey even today reflects its former wealth, and one is amazed that the magnificently constructed CI2 and C13 buildings were enjoyed by only 20 monks and 50 lay brothers. The Abbey reached its zenith in C14 after which it declined although remaining the wealthiest abbey in Wales until it was ‘surrendered’ to Henry VIII in 1536. Rapid decay followed, arrested only in recent times. We were much impressed by the restorative efforts of the craftsmen working on the ruins, employed by CADW, the Welsh Historic Monuments Commission, whose caring hand was in evidence on many of the sites we visited. After a glance round the Museum we continued on our way to Abergavenny, passing in Tintern village a vineyard dating back to Roman times that now produces Tintern Parva table wine.
In ancient Monmouth, the birthplace of Henry V in 1387, we had intended looking at the C11 castle and medieval Shire Hall, only to be frustrated by a traffic jam, and we took an alternative route via Usk. On our way we sighted the substantial ruins of Raglan Castle, a C15 stronghold to stir the imagination which Cromwell managed to knock about more than a bit!
On arriving at The Hill, an attractive College set in 17 acres of rolling parkland on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, we were warmly welcomed by the Principal, John Newcombe, an old friend of HADAS, and invited to a sherry Reception during which he told us of the history of the house. Dating from late C19, it had belonged to a local ‘coal baron’; among its many period features was a grand oak staircase and gothic fireplaces.
Each evening after an excellent dinner, we were privileged to be given illustrated talks by skilled lecturers. On the first Eric Talbot formerly Reader in Medieval Archaeology at Glasgow University and now a local resident, gave us a brilliant lecture on the pre-history of Wales, and on the second an equally entertaining talk on the later history of the Marches. On the Saturday he accompanied us on a whole day outing which not even drenching rain could detract from being instructive and enjoyable, although the planned itinerary had to be adapted to the conditions; much to the disgust, I am afraid, of some hardy HADAS ramblers who would still have liked to have climbed the Blorenge to view an Iron Age hill fort. The first visit was to Usk, headquarters of a Roman Legion in the mid-50s AD. The town itself delighted us with its calm natural beauty. Eric led the HADAS crocodile to a rescue dig being conducted by Andrew Marvell for the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust to uncover, prior to redevelopment, the ground plan of the fort. Andrew Marvell talked to us about the project which was revealing evidence of the granaries, barracks and perimeter defences of the compound and we were able to view artefacts already found, which were being cleaned and documented in an on-site building. From Usk we went to Caerwent (Venta Silurum) and in ever more persistent rain walked round the base of the giant walls – 9ft thick and 15ft high – and supporting towers, enclosing the 4-5 acre site of this important centre of Roman tribal administration. Why no museum, we wondered, surely Caerwent deserved one?
From Caerwent the coach took us the few miles to Caerleon (Isca). First we visited a current excavation, thought to be the house of a Roman officer, and then on to the Roman theatre, baths and the newly opened Legionary Museum. The latter houses a stunningly displayed collection recording every facet of the life of Isca, which flourished from c 75 AD to 290 as the headquarters of the 2nd Legion and its 5,000 effectives who subjugated the Silures. The sun now shining, we were able to marvel at the scale of the amphitheatre, excavated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1926/7, which once held at least 5,000 spectators. Our final visit was to the Roman legionary baths, which were only roofed and opened to the public in 1985. We found it to be a prime example as to how such an important site could be caringly preserved and presented to the public as part of our national heritage; the lighting, choice woodwork of the walkways, and audio visual displays were superb.
On the idyllic Autumn Sunday Richard Keen, an authority on the industrial archaeology of Wales and now working for the Brecon Beacons National Park, took us on a journey through Gwent which reflected the ingenuity, and the harshness, of life of working people at the heart of the Industrial Revolution. We looked at canals, traced old tramways, and had the now greened over scars of industrial workings explained. Our first stop was at Blaenafon Ironworks. Here, with Richard’s help, we were able to see in the mind’s eye the former greatness of the plant which dated back to the 1780s. We viewed the remains of massive furnaces, the casting houses, the giant stone water balance tower built in 1850, and the sad rows of humble cottages used by the skilled workers. The works had decayed rapidly when it closed down in 1900 but it is now being painstakingly preserved as the finest example of a late C18 ironworks in Britain. Before leaving, we looked at and photographed (I have a photographic record of the weekend for anyone to see) the 7 ton Hammer Mill which, when working, shook the whole valley.
We came next to Tredegar and Merthyr Tydfil, the very heart of the Industrial Revolution in Wales. The impressive cast iron replica of Big Ben erected by the proud craftsmen of Tredegar in their town square, along with the black ‘soil’ of a building site, sticks in the memory. As does the sight of partly vandalised gravestones on unconsecrated ground way above the town, all dated 1849 with chilling inscriptions recalling the horrendous deaths of no less than 1,300 people who died in 17 days in a cholera epidemic which devastated the community in the Summer of that year, consequent on polluted water and poor hygiene.
Leaving now almost workless valleys, we travelled back via the once ‘model’ but uncompleted town of Bute, through the Clydach Gorge and along the Heads of the Valley road to Abergavenny and the welcome of an open Bar and a traditional roast beef Sunday lunch. A short Summing Up Session gave us the opportunity of thanking John Newcombe and his Staff for their unfailing care and hospitality which had made the weekend so pleasurable. On our way from and back to London in the College coach, John had thoughtfully provided flasks of tea or coffee, and this was symptomatic of his approach throughout an enjoyable and instructive weekend in the best traditions of HADAS.
The following guide books on sites visited have been presented to the HADAS Library:
The CADW illustrated guide to Tintern Abbey
The Legionary Fortress of Caerleon-Isca George C. Boon
Blaenafon Town ‘Walk (Torfaen Museum Trust)
BROCKLEY HILL EXCAVATION: interim report Gill Braithwaite
Our month’s digging and field work at Brockley Hill came to an end on September 26. All in all it was a very enjoyable and in many respects a rewarding season, despite the changeable weather, and the fine days and wonderful views more than made up for the days when we were sliding around in the mud and trying to bail out the trenches.
As a result of our field-walking we now have a much clearer idea what the main areas of Roman activity are in the field, and we also identified what could be quite an important concentration of mesolithic and possibly neolithic flints. Our trial trenches along the line of the proposed new Water Main were perhaps rather less rewarding; one, half way across the field produced nothing, just confirming the results of our field-walking in this area, while the other two, placed near the modern road on a postulated line of Roman Watling Street, did indeed pick up a likely-looking gravel layer, with a thick bed of sandy clay beneath it, full of corroded iron and Roman pottery, but at the end of the day we weren’t sure if we’d found a Roman road, a C18 gravel track, or a Roman river. But more of all this in the full report which hopefully will be ready for next month’s Newsletter.
Meanwhile I would like to give a big thank you to all those who came to help at Brockley Hill, especially to those who were prepared to face the rain and the horrors of the soggy, slippery, muddy clay, and even more to those stalwarts who came to help back-fill on the last Sunday and made such a good job of the cleaning up and replanting of the site. It looked like Mr MacGregor’s cabbage patch when we had finished, all beautifully dug and the little rape plants in nice neat rows, and hopefully the farmer will be prepared to let us back again.
We thought it would be a good idea to have a Brockley Hill Reunion Party to round off the dig and so that people can see all the finds, discuss the results and interpretations, and see each other again. I do hope as many of those who took part as possible will be able to come, and everyone else who is interested, on Friday November 20th from 8pm onwards at 79 Hampstead Way NW11.
200 NOT OUT: BUT OUT MONTHLY Ted Sammes
Last month saw the issue of our 200th Newsletter, which started in October 1969. Miss Daisy Hill, then Secretary of the Society, was the first Editor. For the 100th number Brigid Grafton Green wrote an informative account of its history, in June 1979.
It is interesting to note that in the first issue HADAS was hopefully excavating on the site of demolished Westhorpe, Tenterden Grove, Hendon, in a search for traces of the Manor House. Strangely, Westhorpe has featured in several numbers of the Newsletter because of its Russian connection and the Elworthy family.
We should be very proud of our Newsletter, with its index. I find the latter of inestimable help in tracing events and places of past HADAS activity. HERE’S TO THE NEXT HUNDRED ISSUESI
We hear that our Chairman Andrew Selkirk (435 7517) is looking for secretarial assistance for Current Archaeology. Perhaps a HADAS member would be interested to promote archaeological publication on a couple of mornings a week?
Congratulations to Ted Sammes, now made an Honorary Life Member of the London and South East Milling Society and presented with a certificate in recognition of exceptional services. The honour gives special pleasure as Ted considers himself to have started on the other side of the fence, in the baking industry in 1937 at the laboratory of H.W.Nevill Ltd at Acton.
TRIBUTE TO A VICE PRESIDENT Brigid Grafton Green
We report with sorrow the death three weeks ago of our longest- serving Vice President, Mrs Rosa Freedman. She had many local claims to fame: but one, of which she was proud, was that she was a founder member of HADAS. Very early in the Society’s life we made her a Vice President – and I remember her telling me, at one of the AGMs over which, as a Vice President,, she presided so often and so willingly, of her great pleasure in the Society’s success.
Mrs Freedman was twice Mayoress to her husband Joe: once in 1951 (long before HADAS was even a gleam in anyone’s eye) when she was Mayoress of Hendon; and again in 1972-3 when Joe Freedman became Mayor of Barnet. We seized our chance that year to hold a special lecture-and-reception for the Freedmans, in March 1973, at the Prince Albert in Golders Green – one of our first big parties – with David Price-Williams delivering a lecture on “Archaeology in the Land of the Bible”. Appropriately the Mayor and Mayoress brought along three albums of their own colour photos of their recent trip to Israel for us to mull over.
That was the sort of friendly note that Rosa Freedman always struck in her dealings with us: and when, in turn, she herself became Mayor of Barnet in 1981-2 we rejoiced with her at the honour and at the accolade which followed it – an MBE from the Queen. During that crowded year of office she was guest of honour at our 21st birthday party and ceremonially cut the birthday cake, delighting in the fact that many of the guests were dressed in flights of historic fancy and the menu consisted of 21 dishes made from recipes dating from Roman times to today. At the very end of her mayoral year she took part, with the Mayor of Camden and Dame Geraldine Aves, in unveiling a Blue Plaque to Samuel and Henrietta Barnett.
Although the Freedmans moved from Hendon to Stanmore last year, we always knew that Rosa Freedman remained, not only one of our Vice Presidents, but also one of our real friends. Those of us who knew her will miss her greatly,
THB CONGRESS QF INDEPENDENT ARCHAEOLOGISTS September 19-20 at Selwyn College, Cambridge. ” June Porges and Andrew Selkirk
This second congress looks like being a turning point in British Archaeology. In his opening address Andrew Selkirk admitted to earlier despondency for local societies, relieved by the support and enthusiasm of Angela Bullock, an archaeologist at York specialising in fish bones, which eventually led to this happy and constructive gathering.
The theme of the Congress was the question of an Institute of Independent Archaeologists or some sort of recognised Liaison Committee being established to represent the amateurs and to compete with other bodies such as Rescue, the Institute of Field Archaeologists, the Museum Association etc. to draw the attention of English Heritage, CADW and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Obviously all were conscious of the lessening of enthusiasm for amateur archaeology since the 1970s, caused in some part by the change in climate for the professionals. Towards them there was little antagonism, rather tributes for help received, and anxiety to reassure them that amateurs do not wish to diminish their grants, wages or status. There was a positive attempt to find a way to complement the professionals, by doing work for which they do not have time or costly resources, or in emergencies when, an amateur group may sometimes move faster into action than a formal unit.
Examples were given of groups walking and talking in their own areas and steadily building up a familiarity with the landscape and local people which reveals hitherto unknown features and information. There were examples of widely recognised amateur expertise such as the work of Teresa Briscoe on Anglo-Saxon pot stamps, and of Peter and Nita Farmer on Scarborough ware.
There was a problem of definition: independent, amateur and unpaid in description. What emerged was that independents who wished to offer themselves as a viable and respected work force must be trained and be prepared to work to professional standards. Real professionalism means good records, reports being written quickly after excavation closes, and interim reports to be available during a dig. Twenty members or so spoke of their demanding experience in recent work. Computer buffs emphasised the usefulness of what is now a cheap tool, with desktop publishing and quick and easy compiling of reports. There was a demonstration of computers, showing databases for sorting pot stamps and for recording a church on an Amstrad, and Andrew Selkirk’s various programmes on an IBM clone including one to calculate calibrations for radiocarbon dates.
A final decision was reached to ask the Council for British Archaeology to represent the Independent Archaeologists in high places for the next two years, and then if this has not been successful the question of setting up a formal organisation will be reconsidered at the next Congress.
Impressions remain of a gathering of friends with the same passionate interests, albeit it different emphases, intent on exchanging ideas. There was a particular satisfaction in the liveliness of the 10-minute presentations throughout the Congress. There are memories of dinners in a candle-lit Cambridge Hall with founders looking down, and then finding ourselves thrown out of the bar at 10.30 with nowhere to go; and of a beautifully sunny autumn Sunday morning when birdsong filled the quad and one envied the students soon to return there. Our reporters confess to suspecting that grass is greener in other places than Hendon, where we struggle to find any small promising looking site to excavate, while other societies apparently have only to stick a trowel in the ground to find hand axes, Bronze Age hoards and Roman burials neatly stratified and waiting for them.
The Congress closed, looking positively towards a future which will be different for amateur societies but which, if the relationship with the professionals can be adjusted, will be a rewarding one. It will be interesting to see if this mood has been sustained when we gather for the next Congress in 1989 (rumour has it, somewhere in the North).
THE PAINTED CAVES OF CANTABRIA, NORTH WEST SPAIN October 3-10 Prehistoric Society Study Tour of Upper Paleolithic Art Clodagh Pritchard
With ten HADAS members in the party, we flew to Bilbao, and it was dark before we reached Santillana del Mar after a 2½ hour coach drive, but we had time for an impression of the countryside. It is a green landscape of scattered houses and smallholdings. Maize is grown in patches, for fodder and for oil. Grass is scythed or mown , stacked and carried away to feed cows, kept in byres or bare enclosed yards. The more fortunate animals are out in the fields, sometimes with horses. The area is noted for milk and cheese.
Eucalyptus trees stand out grey-green in contrast to the dark green forests clothing hills and mountainsides. These trees are cut for paper making and for scaffolding. The wood industry has great economic importance in the area; logs are stacked by the roadsides waiting transport. Pampas grass has escaped from gardens into the wild, the plumes being seen high on hillsides.
Sunday October 4- was a sunny windy day. We visited the cave of El Castillo, one of several in Monte Castillo. An open space and low wall provided a place to sit and enjoy the splendid view while waiting our turn to enter. With the help of a guide, torches and electric light, we were able to make out the groups of bison, hinds and horses, the hand prints and signs depicted on the walls. In the uncertain moving light the formations of stalagmites and stalactites were colourful and impressive. Later we drove to Santian, a long narrow cave with unusual symbols in red ochre, thought to represent arms terminating in hands, and also groups of red spots with a cross.
Monday 5th. We divided into two groups to facilitate our visit to Altamira where only 3 people at once are allowed in, the general public being altogether excluded. So some of us visited Santillana del Mar near our hotel. This is an unspoilt medieval village, preserved as a national monument. There are many fine houses and a C12 church. The day was overcast ending in rain. We had a long afternoon Walk from the coach to Los Hornos de la Peña, again dividing into groups and awaiting our turn. I did not get right up to the cave but there is a reference to the Hornos man in the Skira Lascaux publication under the heading of Aurignacian Figures of Man.
Tuesday 6th.The visit to the cave of Altamira was brief and exciting. The painted ceiling is gloriously colourful even in the dim light. One needs to stand and stare to bring the lively animals into focus, to appreciate the drawing of the forms and the movement conveyed by the stance of bison, horse, deer and boar. In tour round the chamber there is a rock ‘sofa’ where one can lean back and gaze upward for a moment. We watched a video of the site at the Altamira museum. The building shelters sweet-smelling mimosa trees in flower. Then we drove to Covalanas through spectacular mountains, with a rough zigzag climb up to the cave. There was a fig tree outside and we refreshed ourselves with not quite ripe figs.
Wednesday 7th.Sunshine for our return to Monte Castillo. We followed a level path round the mountainside – passing La Pasiega and Las Chimeneas, locked for conservation – and reached Las Monedas. A large cave with staggering rock formations, most notable is a ‘frozen waterfall’ of coloured mineral deposits formed into a cascade of stalagmites reaching from ceiling to floor. The art forms are remarkable, including a reindeer, cave bear and possible fish. Later an arduous walk led to the site of the rock shelter and (closed) cave of El Pendo.
Thursday 8th. To Santander with its great market (meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, cheese), cathedral and Museum. Particularly interesting there were incised and decorated cone implements from El Pendo and other caves that we had visited; also flint tools and ancient bones of wolf, cave bear, small mammals, bats and fish from neighbouring sites,
Friday 9th.A fine day for El Pendal in Asturias. We walked down toward the sea and lighthouse, turned onto a path ending in steps and grass between hillsides. Before us a deep cove with a mighty sea surging up a narrow inlet, thundering on cliff and rocks, with clouds of spray dispersing in sunlight. The long narrow cave contains paintings and engravings including the ‘elephant with a heart’ in red ochre. We ate our lunches on a viewing gallery at the cliff top with a splendid view along the coast. Next day – torrential rain all the way to Bilbao for our return flight to London, where the torrent continued.