NEWSLETTER No. 266 Edited by Ann Kahn MAY 1993
Tuesday May 4 HADAS Annual General Meeting. Once we have the meeting over we will see slides from members – our T.V. Chronicle entry on excavations on West Heath and our Roman Banquet, by Daphne Lorimer who is coming down from Orkney; recent outings and our weekend in Dorset (including the Somerset Levels), by Ted Semmes; and the activities of the HADAS excavations group by Bill. Bass.
Saturday May 15 SEMINAR PRIOR TO CHURCH FARMHOUSE EXCAVATION 2pm – 5pm at St. Mary’s Church House, Hendon. (Details below).
Saturday May 22 BOSWORTH FIELD AND THE LUNT – Outing with Sheila Woodward and Tessa Smith. (Details and application form enclosed).
Saturday June 19 BOGNOR AND CHICHESTER – Outing with Micky Cohen and Micky Watkins.
Saturday July 17 STONEA AND ELY – Outing with Vicki O’Connor, Roy Walker and Bill Bass.
Saturday August 14 PINNER WALK AND HEADSTONE MANOR – Outing with Dorothy Newbury
Sunday September 3-5 CHESTER AND LLANDUDNO WEEKEND.
Saturday October 16 MINIMART
Saturday November 6 ST. PAUL’S VISIT with Mary O’Connell.
Tuesday December 7 DINNER at University College, Gower Stret (to be confirmed). This is linked to the Institute of Archaeology and we hope to see something of interest before our dinner. (More later).
NB A list of all HADAS officers and addresses is given on the green programme card issued to all members.
Till June 27 “Hampstead on the Map”. Burgh House, Hampstead, New End Square, NW3. (Open Wednesdays to Sundays, 12 noon to 5pm) Covers the last three centuries, including the rarely seen detailed manor maps of 1762.
Till July 11 “Magic Molecules: the story of plastics”. Organised by Percy Reboul. Church Farm Museum (Mondays to Thursdays 10am – 5pm; Saturdays 10am – 1pm, 2pm – 5.30pm; Sundays 2pm – 5.30pm). Members of the Plastic History Society are holding a roadshow on 6 June (2pm – 5.30pm) to identify and date any interesting or unusual plastic items brought to the museum. (See below for a review of the exhibition).
Sunday May 16 “Family History Fair” Royal Horticultural Society, Old Hall Vincent Square, SWI (10am – 5pm) Admission £1.00
Saturday May 22 “Historic Food Day”. London Museum. Lectures, demonstrations and workshops in conjunction with English Heritage and British Museum publications. (For full list of London Museum events apply for free mailing list to Marketing Officer, London Museum, London Wall, EC2Y 5HN).
Tuesday June 8 “Hampstead Past” (11am). Illustrated lecture by Christopher Wade and Derek Jackson. in the Festival Marquee as part of the Fenton House Tercentary Celebrations. Tickets £12.50 include light lunchtime refreshments and a tour of the House. (Details and full programme available from Fenton House, Hampstead Grove, NW3 6RT).
Saturday 28 August “National Archaeology Day” Open Day at our dig at Church Farmhouse. (See below for further details).
On 27 March HADAS exhibited at this year’s London and Middlesex Archaeological Society’s conference. The HADAS stand included reports on various sites dug or investigated over the last two years or so, also articles on the Church Farmhouse Museum project and on the Brockley Hill Roman pottery exhibition. Overall attendance seemed quite good (including HADAS members) although there were only six other stands, perhaps reflecting the fortunes of fellow local societies. The theme of the morning session, of what was a busy agenda, was recent archaeological research in the London scene.
Locations included Neolithic in the Rainham area; recent work on the north-west Surrey
Publication is hoped for in mid 1994. Bill Bass
Excavations at Fulham Palace.
Following our Christmas meal and visit to Fulham Palace, Keith Whitehouse, director of rescue operations for the Fulham Archaeology Rescue Group, gave us a talk on the history and archaeological finds to date.
Fulham Palace was the home of the Bishop of London from 704 until 1975 when the site was taken over by the local council. The site had been prone to flooding in early times but, since the river bank has been built up and Bishops Park formed, this is no longer the case. Finds in the locality include the Fulham Road Sword, the Battersea Shieldand a number of other swords; these have dated from 400BC to AD50. In 1962, on the opposite bank in Putney, a funerary pot was found during a dig.
Keith went on to describe the site; at present it is bounded by a moat which is one mile in length and encloses 36 acres; this was filled in the nineteen twenties. The earliest surviving building is the Great Hall built in 1480 by Bishop Thomas Kemp; the present buildings surround two courtyards, the larger being Tudor; the smaller covers a medieval site. The chapel was moved to the great hall following complaints about the smell caused by the bishop’s ale which was stored in a cellar below the chapel. Evidence of this ale store can still be seen in the basement of the east wing, which was designed by Leadbetter in 1814. During restoration the under floor space was found to be filled with building rubble.
The only bridge over the moat leads into the northwest corner of the site; the bridge is of Victorian design built around an earlier core and provides the only access to the site. The moat was originally flushed by the Thames which helped to clear the sewage which flowed into it from buildings to the north. Following a number of accidents and the water becoming stagnant, it was cleaned out and filled in. During 1972 a trench, 10 feet wide and 70 feet long was dug through the moat on the river side of the site, its position being decided rather by the fact that there was a tree missing from the bank than from any particular archaeological reason. As the moat had been thoroughly cleaned out before being filled it yielded no archaeological evidence; the remainder of the trench was found to contain much Roman debris. Skulls of a dog and a horse were found close to a packed post hole, suggesting a ritual burial common to Celtic/Roman entrances. This was possibly the site of the original riverside entrance, in line with the Fulham Road. The Roman finds suggest a settlement around the third to fourth centuries Ad but there was not enough digging done to confirm this.
In 1975, following the erection of marquees on the site of the Saxon palace, a second dig was carried out to discover what damage had been inflicted by the spikes driven in for support. The Saxon palace is situated in the western moated corner of the site; one side of this moat passes under the western side of the Tudor courtyard and may account for the building’s angle to the smaller courtyard as the moat bank was used as a foundation.
Later evidence suggests that a third, larger moat enclosing 42 acres may be present; following subsidence under a building on the northern side and its subsequent demolition, there were signs of another moat. Although the evidence is very confusing, it could be postulated that this site may well have been a ford across the Thames in Roman and medieval times.
29 Albury Drive, Pinner, Middx HA5 3RL. 081-868 8431
April 16, 1993
A plastics puzzle for future archaeologists to solve
Past and future come together in an intriguing way in Church Farmhouse Museum’s current exhibition, Magic Molecules: The Story of Plastics. As organiser Percy Reboul this time wearing not his HADAS member’s hat but that of chairman of the Plastics Historical Society — points out, plastics will be one of the keys to understanding the past which future archaeologists will value as much as the pottery or metal objects unearthed today.
And just as there are different pottery fabrics and all kinds of different metals, so plastics come in huge variety. Pity the poor archaeologist of the 25th or 30th century, puzzling over the chronology of objects which scientific analysis shows were made of such completely natural materials as milk, blood, wood flour or resins, as well as of oil-based polymers. The typology, too, will confuse. The early moulders were as skilled in handling their material, be it to make the handle of a parasol or produce a decorative plaque in finely-detailed relief, as those of generations and centuries which followed.
With luck, of course, some of the publications of the Plastics Historical Society and other current researchers will also survive, allowing future investigators to learn that plastics even featured in prehistory, when natural polymers such as amber and bitumen were exploited. More documents could direct them to the 17th century, when an Englishman, John Osborne, made mouldings from another natural polymer, horn, and on into the 1800s, when suddenly there was a wealth of invention, from gum-based gutta percha to albumen-mixed Bois Durci.
Truly dedicated delvers into papers past might even discover that the big date was 1862, when a second clever Briton, Alexander Parkesine, displayed the first semi-synthetic plastics material, cellulose nitrate (celluloid), to be followed by the first truly synthetic plastic, Bakelite, in 1907.
But as in the present display, the future archaeologists will find most to intrigue and interest in the plastics objects themselves. From tiny buttons to massive radios, from elegant jewellery to tacky souvenirs, from impressive medical advances such as the insulin syringe which looks just like a fountain pen to the fake plate of spaghetti which would fool no-one, the exhibition illustrates the huge scale of the inventiveness that plastics have inspired.
It ends with a small section on recycling, important in an increasingly green age. Supermarket bags and mineral water bottles, and a whole lot more, can be changed into something new and useful. But if plastics are to be useful to future archaeologists, recycling surely should not go too far!
Magic Molecules: The Story of Plastics continues at Church Farmhouse Museum, Greyhound Hill, Hendon (071-203 0130), until July 11. Membership of the Plastics Historical Society costs £10 a year, for details write to Plastics Historical Society, The Plastics and Rubber Institute, 11 Hobart Place, SW1W OHL.
One of Jean Snelling’s wishes was that HADAS should receive a selection of books from her collection and with the kind assistance of her brother, Peter, over one hundred books, guides and maps are at Avenue House in the process of being catalogued and classified. There are several CBA research reports including Urban archaeology in Britain, Medieval moated sites and The church in British Archaeology. We now have the counties of Sussex, London (City and Westminster), Surrey, Hertfordshire and Essex in Pevsner’s “The Buildings of Britain” series as well as Domesday Book summaries for the counties of Sussex, Hertford, Middlesex, Berkshire, Oxford, Stafford and Surrey in Phillimore’s “History from the Sources” series. Jean’s interest in the Whetstone House is surely reflected in English historic carpentry (C Hewett), Recording Old Houses (R McDowall) and Timber-framed buildings in Watford (S A Castle). Of local interest are The deserted medieval villages of Hertfordshire (K Rutherford-Davis) and The Anglo-Saxon churches of Hertfordshire (T P Smith). Further afield is Exploration of a drowned landscape (C Thomas) covering the archaeology and history of the Scilly Isles. London is represented by The building of London (J Schofield), The Lost rivers of London (N Barton), Saxon London (A Vince), and The Great Fire of London (G Milne). There are two books by Michael Wood – In search of the Trojan War and In search of the Dark Ages together with Iron-age farm (P Reynolds) The Stonehenge people (A Burl) and Archaeology of Language (C Renfrew). The concise Oxford dictionary of English place names (E Ekwall) adds to our reference collection. Finally in this summary of books donated by Jean is one for the finds processing team to get their teeth into – Dental morphology, an illustrated guide (G van Beek).
There are of course many other books, photocopied extracts from magazines, maps, guides and archival material including newsletters from other local societies such as the Finchley Society, Barnet & District Local History Society, Enfield Archaeological Society and many others at Avenue House. A full list of titles and authors will be issued later this year but if you have the time, it is recommended you pop in one Sunday morning (check first that the room will be open) to see the wide selection available to members. You will most certainly find something of interest.
Renewals are well over the half-way mark. If you have mislaid your form this need not delay renewal, but please ensure your printed name accompanies your remittance. Our last new member for 92/93 is junior member, Andrew Harris. We hope to have more new junior members this year – our last batch seems to have matured! Has any HADAS family more than two generations in membership? Letters to the Editor please!
Mr & Mrs P D Griffiths, Diana Wheatley, and Mr E F Chubb have resigned from the Society, but send us their best wishes for the future.
Vikki O’Connor – Membership Secretary
The nameboard at the front of Avenue House spells out the HADAS name omitting the second “a” from “archeological” – “Archeological Society”. In April, the Sunday Times featured a report on archaeology and the Bible which throughout spelt “archaeology” and “archaeologist” without this second “a”, thus “archeology” and “archeologist”, even in the headline. It is known that “Mediaeval” and “palaestra can also be spelt “medieval” and “palestra” but was it now to be the fashion to have an alternative to “archaeology”? It may have been that the reporter lived in East End Road and had copied the nameboard (“it must be right, it’s in big letters”) but on the chance that this might have been an Americanism that had crept into our language I checked with an American archaeology handbook. Thankfully, it used “archaeology” with the “a”. However, it does refer to “paleo-Indians”!
CHURCH FARMHOUSE PROPOSED EXCAVATION SEMINAR SATURDAY 15 MAY 1993 2 – 5pm
CHURCH HOUSE, GREYHOUND HILL, HENDON, NW4
It is hoped that as many as possible of those who will take part in the dig will attend; so that we can discuss, and hear views, on the archaeological significance of the site, the organisation of the dig and the way we mean to approach it, going into some practical detail – for the benefit of new diggers, on techniques, what we might expect to find, and the system for recording our results. Various finds from the locality will be available, so that participants can see and handle the kind of artefacts we may expect to find and hope to recognise.
There will be contributions from:-
Dr. Pamela Taylor on the history of the area
Ted Sammes on the archaeology of the immediate area, including Church Terrace, Burroughs Gardens, and Church End Farm excavations by HADAS
Gerard Roots on the post-medieval history of Church Farm
Brian Wrigley on the organisation of the excavation
Church House is the same place as our venue for the MINIMART, at the top of Greyhound Hill opposite the Church. Tea will be provided during the afternoon, and to cover this and the cost of accomodation, there will be a small charge of £1.00 per head. All will be welcome, whether diggers or not.
FRIENDS OF CHURCH FARMHOUSE MUSEUM
The Friends of Church Farmhouse Museum now exist! Local MPs John Marshall and Hasrt ley Booth joined 45 other Church Farmhouse enthusiasts at the inaugural meeting held on 17 March at the Hendon Library. The constitution was adapted, officers and committee elected and subscription (in the form of an “initial levy”) set for the current year. Andrew Selkirk, our Chairman, congratulated Joyce Gawthrop on her election as Chairman of the Friends and, welcoming the formation of the new group, proposed future joint ventures. He invited members of the Friends to attend the Church Farmhouse excavation seminar on Saturday afternoon 15 May.
The Friends have been formed as a self-financing group to support the renovation and development of Church Farmhouse Nuseum. They will play a valuable part in promoting the museum, its exhibitions and collections. Members of HADAS are most welcome to join – there will be a programme of visits, meetings and social activities as well as opportunities to help within the musueum. A Newsletter will be produced four times a year.
Liz Holliday, Hon. Secretary, The Friends of the Church Farmhouse Museum
NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGY DAY
HADAS has designated Sunday 29th August as our Open Day; our contribution to The Young Archaeologists Club’s “National Archaeology Day” programme. The aim is for young people and their families to visit a site of archaeological/historical interest to see ‘archaeology in action’ and take part in some activities on site. Suggestions for activities would be welcome. Ideas so far received include a Roman Barbecue to coclude our Open Day, and an “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” type quiz based on our collection of finds with perhaps a year’s junior membership to HADAS as a prize. Please send all ideas and comments to Liz Holliday as soon as possibly (Gorse Cottage, The Common, Chipperfield, Kings Langley, Herts, WD4 9BL)
PRESS REPORTS (edited)
THE OLDEST FOOTPRINTS ever found in Britain has been found on the coast of Howick, Northumberland. They belonged to an animal of the size and appearance of a small crocodile that lived a full 300 million years ago, according to Dr. Maurice Tucker, a geologist at Durham University. Enthusiasts have only one year to see them before natural erosion wipe them out forever. (Daily Telegraph 23 January).
CANTERBURY. The Anglo-Saxon cathedral, burnt down in 1067, and found
on the site of the existing Canterbury Cathedral was built on a massive scale, the nave being as wide and as long as the present Norman structure, a feat believed beyond the capabilities of the Anglo-Saxons. Professor Martin Biddle, the Cathedral’s archaeological consultant, said that this find tells us that the architecture of the England of Alfred, Edgar and Canute was the match of anything in Europe north of the Alps at that time. The finds, made during excavations to install a new heating system, had vindicated the writings of a monk, Eadmer the Singer, who early in the 12thc wrote an account of the old building, as he remembered it from his childhood.
FRANCE. Archaeologists have discovered what they think is the 3,000 year old home of the French cartoon hero Asterix. The buried remains of a large and heavily defended Iron Age settlement at the precise Breton spot where Asterix’s creator, Rene Goscinny, located his hero’s well-fortified home village, have been found by an Anglo-French team, directed by Oxford University Professor Barry Cunliffe and Dr. Patrick Galliou of the University of Brest. Excavations at Le Yaudet (derived from the Gallo-Roman word for “tribal centre”) near Lannion, have also borne out Goscinny’s claim that Asterix’s village was never stormed by the Romans or occupied by Roman soldiers. So far the excavations have yielded substantial quantities of Asterix-period pottery, and Celtic coins bearing the image of wild boar, the favourite food of Asterix’s friend Obeix. Nearby are some rare Iron Age menhirs of the precise size favoured by the indomitable Obeix, whose job as a menhir delivery man has added a certain academic weight to the books. Archaeologists suspect the real Asterix village was the seat of the local chieftain, though whether his name was actually Abraracourcix, as in the French edition if the books, is of course open to question. He ruled over a part of a Celtic tribal confederacy known as the Osismi. (Independent April)
EGYPT. An intact chamber has been found in the Great Pyramid, which may contain the remains and treasures of the Pharaoh Cheops, every bit as stunning as those of Tutankhamun’s. The discovery was made accidentally by German scientists, led by the robotics expert, Rudolf Gantenbrink, under the auspices of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo. They were checking pollution problems and were using a robot to explore the air circulation system in the passageways. The robot will now be developed to be inserted through a tiny gap in a miniature stone door with large copper handles found at the end of a narrow sloping passageway at the centre of the Pyramid, designed probably to have functioned as a “spirit path” for the soul of the departed pharaoh. (Independent 16 April).
Congratulations to Alan Hill who has been elected ESA for his work as Publicity Director of the Prehistoric Society and for all the archaeology books he has published. His autobigraphy, In Pursuit of Publishing, was published in 1988, it contains many delightful references to his wife, Enid, well known to HADAS members.
SITE WATCHING – THE NORTHERN AREA
English Heritage are suggesting an archaeological evaluation for a site at West Farm Place, Chalk Farm, Cockfosters. It is near the line of an ancient boundary and historic flint find spots. Bill Bass