NEWSLETTER 217: April 1989 Editor: Isobel McPherson
Tuesday April 4th HARVEY SHELDON on Recent Archaeological investigations in Southwark.
Harvey Sheldon has been known to most of our members for very many years. He gave us a lecture in 1971 on the Highgate Woods excavation which he led in the 60s, and another lecture in 1973 on the Archaeological Problems of Motorway Building. He is now Head of the Department of Greater London Archaeology attached to the Museum of London, a body which is responsible for giving professional assistance, if required, in Greater London, including our own area of Hendon and Barnet. Southwark is one of his favourite areas and this is sure to be an interesting lecture.
Saturday April 22nd Afternoon tour of Harrow School. Application form enclosed.
Tuesday May 9th Annual General Meeting
Saturday May 13th Outing to Stamford, Lincs. and Burghley House
Saturday June 3rd. Barnet Triangular Market day. See below
Saturday June 24th Outing to Great Bur stead and Maldon
OUTING INFORMATION for new members. An application form is enclosed with the Newsletter for the month in which the outing is arranged (unless the outing is very early in a month when the form will go in the preceding month). Early application is recommended as we sometimes get overbooked. Anyone wishing to notify Dorothy Newbury of their advance requirements is free to do so as long as they as long as they confirm, with cheque, directly they receive the application form. We usually make an early start – 8 to 8.45 – with pick-up points at Finchley Central, the Quadrant, Hendon, and the Refectory, Golders Green.
Punctuality is essential as we usually have a tight time schedule.
BARNET’S FAMOUS TRIANGULAR MARKET PLACE
If this heading strikes you as odd (What on earth? …Where?) be ready to regret your ignorance. HADAS – and especially YOUNG HADAS, together with a visiting contingent from Young LAMAS, will be inaugurating our-drive for the re-discovery of this long hidden feature of our Borough.
This is the triangular space at the top of Barnet Hill, just south of the church where the market was first held and from which Chipping (=Market) Barnet takes its name. Over the centuries it has shrunk considerably, rebuilding has inched forward to the road, for centuries Middle Row occupied the centre ground, to give way at last to a confusion of turning traffic. Now developers have their pin-table eyes on some of the surrounding terraces and NOW is the time to explore what is left, before it- disappears forever.
On June 4th we shall examine the church – especially the north (oldest.) wall, currently being studied by HADAS member Robert Michel, the existing buildings, precious or possibly disposable and, best of all the exploratory trenches which should by then be open behind the existing shops. It is there we hope to find traces of the mediaeval town. Junior Members may compete for prizes (details later), older Members will be more than welcome. Watch for further details in the Newsletter or, if you can’t wait. contact Jennie Cobban, the co-ordinator, on 440 3254.
NEWS FROM LAMAS
For us the great news is that our Hon. Treasurer, Victor Jones, has been elected to the Council of LAMAS. We congratulate him and welcome this new link with the County organization. He is especially interested in the Development Sub-Committee, which promises helpful co-ordination of information on speakers, research in progress and publications. At a July seminar on Local History Publishing the use of a word-processor in producing high-quality publications was demonstrated. Is this a new path for HADAS?
LAMAS CONFERENCE i989 Enid Hill
This is always an interesting event, even more so this year because Myfanwy Stewart of HADAS made the opening speech on the flint scatter found by her at Brockley Hill in 1987 (and again in 1989) in connection with the HADAS trial excavation there. A number of flints were found both Mesolithic and Neolithic and a Bronze Age arrowhead, all beautifully mounted by Victor Jones for the exhibition, and it became obvious that early man had camped here many times before Romans built their pottery kilns on the same site.
From this we went on to a Middle Iron Age site at- Uphall Camp near Ilford – a univallate fort with rampart and ditch – much denuded but producing some Bronze Age and Iron Age pottery in ditches and pits with much burnt qrain and the remains of several round houses, some ‘four-posters’ for storing grain and a possible rectangular structure.
Roman London then took up most of the remaining time except for an interesting account of excavations taking place at Merton Priory in Surrey. Four main London sites were discussed:-1) An early Roman timber building, probably a warehouse, on the Courage Brewery site where the wooden planks, joists and sidewall timbers were sufficiently well preserved to be lifted for preservation. 2) A collection of a Roman forger’s coin moulds from a ditch outside the City wall found together with a number of real silver dinarii. 3) In Upper Thames Street, a collection of 60 or more Roman millstones from Germany forming part of a substantial revetted Saxon flood embankment on the Thames. 4) Finds from Roman London’s eastern extra mural cemeteries including Mansell Street. Cremations and inhumations with coffins of lead, wood, and merely shrouds for the poor, with a collection of many burial goods, remains of flagons and dishes, the odd coin in the mouth to pay for crossing the Styx, gold earrings, silver bracelets, jet pendants, ivory figurines, even traces of hob-nailed boots.
Finally to round off the day, a provocative talk by Gustav Milne on public buildings in Londinium and their rise and fall according to the contemporary political state of affairs.
VIKING ART Muriel Large
The meeting on 7 March, which was attended by more than seventy members, as all our meetings since Christmas have been, was led invitingly through the delights of Viking art by Graham Campbell, well-remembered in HADAS for his previous lecture on the Anglo-Saxons.
The Vikings have always had a bad press as blood- thirsty pirates, ravaging the seacoasts of Northern Europe, but they were also settlers, farmers, merchants and craftsmen. Comparatively little of their art has come down to us, but it shows a restless quality and a love of surface adornment in keeping with their way of life, and it is all applied art. Textiles in particular have vanished almost without trace, and we are left with weapons, brooches and other metalwork, carved stones and the wood carving found in churches and ship burials. The ships themselves, however, are both functional and beautiful with clean, elegant lines and excellent carved ornamentation, mostly animal patterns.
Six styles have been identified, from Style III (ending about 850 AD) to the Urnes style of 1050 to 1170 AD. All influenced Saxon and Irish art and themselves developed when Christianity arrived, bringing a need for crucifixes and therefore human representations other than the previously depicted Valkyries with drinking horns.
Memorial stones – using naturally-shaped boulders – contain pictures of ships under sail with their warrior crews, as well as runes, Christian symbols and the stylised beasts characteristic of the Vikings. One favourite was the “gripping beast”, whose writhing bodies formed complex patterns while their legs gripped the edges of the design or other parts of the body. So complex are the patterns that it is sometimes difficult for the untutored eye to recognise the one or more animals depicted, e.g. a lion fighting a snake. Often the design consisted of a ribbon of uniform size, twisted round itself, with a “ladder pattern” central strip around which the head, feet and tails emerge. Colour, which to modern eyes could have appeared crude in its brilliance, was added to the stone.
The ninth-century Oseberg ship burial was rich in items, particularly elaborately worked stem and stern posts of interlaced animals with small heads and frond-like feet while the cart, sledges and bedposts found in the burial mound include human heads in full relief in the vivid ornamentation.
Golden pendants and brooches which have survived are rich with filigree and granulation, notably the drum-shaped brooch from Gottland, while elaborate brooches have been found in Russia, the Isle of Man, Orkney and Ireland . The Danish royal burial mound at Jelland (c.958) yielded a fine silver cup with interlaced animals. Some Carolingian influence has been noted, especially on the fittings of a scabbard from Sweden and a magnificently decorated iron battle axe which includes a man’s face with long moustaches and a spiral for beard.
Design was lightened and refined in the Ringesrike style at the turn of the millenium. The Kallunga vane, originally on a ship and then moved to a church, is still elaborate in design but shows an appreciation of plain background to set off the multiple tendrils of mane and tail and also uses a more naturalistic representation, described as the “great beast”. Jewellery also shows this trend while stonecarvings, and manuscripts produced in Winchester (influenced by the Danish King Knut) echo it. In St. Paul’s churchyard (now in the Museum of London) was found a carved and painted stone of this period. Interestingly, on a crucifix from Trondheim, the wrists were bound to the cross, not nailed, so that the hands could be shown in tendril form. A fluted silver bowl from Gotland was restrained and elegant.
The Great Beast soon became less leonine and more greyhound-like as it began to appear in Icelandic brooches, but after a final flowering in Ireland in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the style lost vitality and was overtaken by the incoming Romanesque, The whole history of Viking art exemplified considerable technical skill, with self-assured and extrovert design.
Questions after the talk ranged from the absence of sea animals or fish in the designs, and the limited range of birds, to the geographical extent of Viking influence, from Kiev to Iceland, and to the use of such designs in Northern Europe as opposed to more classic ones in the South. A vote of thanks was proposed by Alan Lawson and well supported after such a feast of riches.
ST. GEORGE’S, TUFNELL PARK Mary O’Connor
All those members who enjoyed our Christmas Party at- St George’s will be sad to know they have lost their grant as Susie Harding had feared. The Bar and Restaurant are closed, as are performances other than their workshops. Sponsorship is being actively sought. An item of good news is that the young actor Vincent Regan, who entertained us, has been accepted by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford – straight into minor roles, not just spear carrying or understudying. We heartily congratulate him.
THE MANOR HOUSE MOATED SITE EAST END ROAD, FINCHLEY Jean Snelling
This scheduled monument is described by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission as “an irregular L-shaped moat associated with the site of a 13th century manor house”. Recently English Heritage permitted some tree planting there, “under archaeological supervision”, that being provided by the Department of Greater London Archaeology of the Museum of London with HADAS cooperating. Martin Brown and I, the operators, took the opportunity to study this rather unyielding site.
The present Manor House of 1723 is now occupied by the Sternberg Centre for Judaism and in all covers nearly 8 acres. The garden area behind the buildings is almost entirely scheduled, the only visible sign of the monument being the moat at the southern end. The southern half and eastern border of the garden are now woodland apart from two tennis courts, and are engulfed by sycamores, brambles, nettles, occasional mature trees and dumped builders’ rubble. In the midst the moat, dry and overgrown, remains a formidable structure.
The old manor keeps its secrets well. The following account of it owes much to the VCH. References are given at the end.
The Finchley lands belonged to the Bishop of London’s Fulham estates from time out of mind, declared one Bishop, bereft of documents, in 1294; this may imply a possible Saxon estate. It is first recorded as a manor in 1319. From 1244 the estate was leased to a series of prosperous London merchants, and with a few interruptions for courtiers, C18 squirearchy and schools, the series continued up to the Jones Bros and Gamages of yesterday. In 1918 the Society of Marie Auxiliatrice bought the present house and grounds for a convent school. They left in 1981 and the Sternberg Centre took over.
The site was typical of many medieval houses in Finchley; close to the edge of the boulder clay as the land falls away to gravel and a stream, here the Mutton Brook. In earlier years neither house nor moat got much mention. The house is quoted in 1335 in a St Paul’s MS. Bibbsworth, a leaseholder in 1420-1443, possibly extended it as subsequently it was called a ‘great place’. At that time the estate had 6 houses including the manor house, 7 torts, 200 acres of land (arable/fallow?), 30 acres of meadow, 200 acres of pasture, 120 acres of wood and 49 shillings of rent in Finchley and Hendon. The farm land was always let to local farmers and this continued until the farms were sold in C19 and C20. The manor house was therefore more a country house than a farm complex. The VCH suggests that it was rents that attracted medieval merchants plus the possibility of offering the property as security when raising business loans.
In 1502-4 a lease cites the manor house, an orchard and another building as being ‘within the ‘moat’ (the first mention of it) and a great barn and long stable as outside but adjoining the moat. In 1664 the Hearth Tax return gives 19 hearths for the house which is ‘standing within a moat’. The VCH has a reference to the long fishpond north of the site in 1692 and also to some ornamental gardens. (This fishpond is shown in old photographs and was erroneously called a moat; it was drained in this century and the houses of Manor View now occupy the position).
In 1723 the squire Thomas Allen built the present manor house a little to the north and cleared out the old house and adjacent buildings, leaving only the moat, it seems. He or his successors built or extended ornamental gardens over the site. In 1947 this garden had become ‘the convent woods’; later the northern half was cleared for a school playing field and then the tennis courts.
So we are left with questions. Where was the old house with its outhouses and orchard? When was the the moat built and what was its extent?
A manor plan of 1870 (ref FD) suggests that the moat, drawn there perhaps unduly curved, may have extended to the north-west, i.e. was three sided. The OS map of 18984-6 gives only the L-shaped moat. If the three sided plan was correct, the old house with any remaining orchard or other buildings would lie north of the moat under the tennis courts and a little further to west. If the moat was always L-shaped the space for structures was still to the north but somewhat smaller. Despite 19 hearths and any possible infilling with C17 brickwork, the old house must have been basically a timber-framed hall house, with timber-framed barn, stables and outhouses. These buildings often leave little trace. Whatever might have remained beneath Thomas Allen’s gardens and the convent woods and the tennis courts would normally be described as now safe and not at risk – except perhaps from sycamore roots. At least the old house is not beneath its successor of 1723, as some HADAS trenching in 1982 showed (HADAS Newsletter March 1982)
As for the moat…………… In general moats were built between 1150 and 1500,
the heyday for building being 1200 to 1325. They were common on the clay lands; 30 are listed for Middlesex, Essex once had 548. Of all sizes and shapes, they could be built for drainage, fishponds, protection from thieves, protection of gardens (Haringey park had the Bishop’s deer), control of domestic or farm stock, a water supply for fire fighting, and to signify social superiority.
The Finchley moat now measures 23 metres wide at the west end, 18m at the east end. The length from the midline ramp to the west end is 45m. The eastern ‘half’ was not available for measuring length, being choked with undergrowth; it appears possibly a little longer. The depth has been much reduced by soil-wash and vegetation; one still climbs down into the (western) moat but it is not possible to estimate depth of any use. Now dry, the moat in 1947 contained water, perhaps 8-10 feet deep in the eastern (deeper) end, and had occasional visiting ducks. (from personal communication)
Apart from rain water, sources are not clear. The site lies at just below 300ft above sea level. The OS map shows a tentative stream line coming off Finchley Common, at Browns’s wells, following Squire’s Lane to the fishpond, crossing the site uncertainly and leaving from the southeast boundary, heading for the Mutton Brook. This stream is not shown on OS maps of 1894-6 or later, nor on the Roque map of 1794. There are no surface signs of it now.
A near midline ramp crosses the moat, raising the possiblity of a former medieval bridge. Remnants of abutments if any might lie beneath the ramp to the south; this may be due to an old track – or to another cause.
The literature on moats shows that the discovery of their foundations and possible age, original construction and any subsequent reconstructions makes a demanding task for excavators. Digging the occasional trench offers little of value. The surrounding structures (banks, buildings past-and present.) require interpretation. It is also necessary to watch for remains of pre-existing farming including Saxon or earlier settlement. In common speech excavation of the Finchley moat is not on.
All in all, the old manor of Finchley may well continue to raise questions that it is not going to answer. But it is a fine place for speculation.
Council for British Archaeology. Research report no 17. Medieval Moated Sites.
1978 Davis, Fred. Finchley Manor: Influential Families. Barnet Libraries Local History Publication 1982
Victoria County History of Middlesex. vol. VI 1980
Cherry LavelI of the Council for British Archaeology, was quick to respond to John Venn’s request in the last issue. Here is her list of reviews of Colin Renfrew’s Archaeology and Language
Antiquity. 62, 1988, 563-95 (three papers) plus 607-9 (straight review)
American Anthropology 90(4), 1988, (pans the book on language grounds alone)
Current Anthropology 29, 1988, 437-68 (gives precis by Renfrew of his book plus critiques by 8 reviewers)
Nature 331, 28 Jan 1988, 311 (Richard Bradley’s review)
Times Lit. Supp. June 24-30 1988 (pan by Marija Gimbutas)
Cherry Lavell says these are all that she has noticed so far in the learned journals there have also been short reviews in Times, Guardian, Observer
American Anthropology and Current Anthropology can be
found in UCL Institute of Archaeology Library, and not, many other places I know of!
187 Marine Parade,
Dunoon, Argyll, PA218HJ.
I do so enjoy the Newsletter. I met Daphne Lorimer at the AGM of the Council of Scottish Archaeology at the end of January and we had lunch together. It was good, to see her. Cowal Archaeology Society will be digging at the end of May for two weeks led by Betty Rennie. Should anyone (or two people) be “madly” keen to visit this part of Scotland and join us I could offer accomodation.
with best wishes,
PS. The Summer School might also be of interest SLUBTERRANEA BRITANNICA
Mrs Beaman, who gave us that illuminating talk on Ice Houses at our last.
AGM, has sent in details of the above Society, which is an organisation of about 120 members, with extensive active contacts with people and organisations in Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. They are concerned with all aspects of research into man-made and man-used underground space. Meetings are held twice a year in Cambridge and/or London. There is an annual study weekend to enable members to visit a variety of underground sites, and they participate in International Conferences and visits abroad. There is a Newsletter several times a year and informal exchange visits and exhange of information is encouraged among members. Particular areas of interest include ice-houses, dene holes, canal, road and railway tunnels, miscellaneous minas, the several abandoned Channel tunnel works, underground stone quarries, rock cut cellars etc. Mrs Beaman also enclosed details of a day conference at the Royal School of Mines, Prince Consort Rd on Saturday 8th April. Lecture topics include The Channel Tunnel Grid, Underground Fortifications on Alderney and Stone Quarries at Caen. Lunch available. Further information from Malcolm Todd, Secretary, on 0737 823456 or from our present. Editor on 046 7720
BRITISH MUSEUM SOCIETY
A reminder that a subscription to the British Museum Society, which is open to anyone interested in supporting the Museum, brings not only the chance to attend evening lectures and private views, free entry to paying exhibitions such as the Shadow of the Guillotine: Britain, and the French Revolution, 10 per cent discount on all items at the BM shop and at exhibition sales points. and, three times a year, a beautifully produced magazine, which reports on the activities of the Society and the BM with authoritative illustrated articles, usually written by the curatorial staff, and notes on acquisitions and special exhibitions. The Society also
organises tours abroad and in the U.K forthcoming ones include Cappadocia; Egypt, Jordan and the Holy Land; Jordan and Sinai; Egypt in Europe (visits to Munich, Linz and Vienna) and 1812: Napoleon in, Europe. More information on the Society from June Forges, 346 5078.
A PLACE IN TIME
This is the title of our new publication, virtually ready for printing and bound to be a success. The size – a pocketable “shire-size’ volume is settled, a few illustrations have yet to be selected and then we shall be set to introduce ourselves to an even wider audience than ever before. More news soon.
Archaeology workshop: Dig into Archaeology! Mike Hutchins, based at the Museum of London, will explain, in layman’s terms, what archaeology is about, its methods and results. Saturday April 29th, 2pm at St John’s Gate. The cost will be £3, including a sandwich lunch beforehand. Cheques to the Curator, Museum and Library, St John’s Gate, London EC1M 4DA before 20th April
Mutiny on the Bounty An international exhibition to mark the bicentenary of the most famous mutiny in maritime history at National Maritime Museum Greenwich, April 28 to October 1 1969
Art in Flight An exhibition of paintings and drawings of aviation in World Wars 1 and 2. Church Farm House Museum, Greyhound Hill, NW4 March 18th to April 30th.Closed Tuesday afternoons, Sunday mornings, otherwise 10 to 1pm, 2 to 5.30pm.
London Area Pottery_Group. A study dav on current finds from London and the South East. Lecturers include Mark Redknap on Barking, Paul Blinkhorn on Ipswich and Dr Helena Hamerow on Mucking. Saturday May 6th at the Education Department, Museum of London 10am. Early booking advisable. £6.
Finchley Information Fair. An annual exhibition at which groups have an opportunity to show the community what they are doing and talk to possible new members. HADAS will be there with finds and photographs from our recent activities. Saturday May 20th 10am to 5pm. Methodist Church Hall, Ballards Lane, Finchley.