Stonehenge on right, traffic flow on the nearby A303  left
©
Mike Pitts
 
In his letter to The Times (Saturday, 16 September) Mike Pitts, Editor of the British Archaeological magazine, writes –
 

Sir, Tom Holland (letter September 13) notes that archaeologists have found ancient remains across the Stonehenge world heritage site, and implies that a road tunnel would threaten more. He is correct, but this is a red herring. Any works close to Stonehenge must be preceded by an archaeological survey. In the latest announcement the proposed route has been adjusted to avoid newly discovered sites. It is inevitable, however, that not everything can be saved in this way, and then excavation must occur. Remains will be disturbed, scientific studies will be conducted and finds will go to the local museum. We will learn more about Stonehenge. The process – turning loss into enlightenment – is exactly the same for all excavations, including those that have impressed Holland. All archaeological excavation is both destructive and creative.

If there is a problem, it is that the two excavating sides – one led by pure inquiry, one by development – do not talk to each other enough. In the years ahead, it is vital that all organizations work together for the benefit of Stonehenge and the public.

Mike Pitts
Editor, British Archaeology

Photo and letter published with the kind permission of Mike Pitts. See also Mike’s What would Trump do with Stonehenge?

Modern ‘Fairy Stacks’ at Stowes Pound
© Roy Goutté

In July we published an article by Heritage Trust member Roy Goutté and his TimeSeekers volunteer archaeological clearance group on the damage being done by visitors to the Neolithic site of Stowes Pound in Cornwall, some of whom are removing stones from the structure to build so-called ‘Fairy Stacks’ there. Now, Historic England, BBC News Cornwall and The Telegraph have picked up on Roy and his team’s concerns and are urging visitors not to engage in the practice as it is not only illegal but is also eroding an important feature of our Neolithic heritage.

Roy adds –

Now that the media are covering this it is to be hoped that action will now be taken to protect this wonderful Neolithic monument from further damage. I have observed this happening for years by visitors mainly there to see the Cheesewring as I live but a few minutes away. I have never felt it was deliberate vandalism, just seen as a bit of harmless fun. To the uninformed they are ‘just stones’ as there are no information boards on site to say differently – but there should be IMO. However, mention this to holiday makers and you are met with either thanks for enlightening them – or hostility, because you have no authority to tell them what they can or can’t do. I keep reporting it and I know that my concerns are passed on, but to date nothing practical seems to have been done and it needs sorting!

To make it clear, the stones in question are the stones that form the continuous defensive rampart that create the Pound. It is roughly teardrop shaped and in my opinion a Neolithic work of defensive art as attempting to scale it on foot is sure to cost you your life if defended well from inside. Your progress would be so slow with your eyes constantly fixed on where you placed your feet, you would be dead before reaching the top!

The two photos were taken in 2014 when members of the TimeSeekers clearance group helped to topple the towers and replace the stones as near as possible to their original positions – something very time consuming and not always achievable.

Japanese woodblock print by Eiichi Kotozuka 琴塚 英 (1906-1979) of Nene-no-Michi Lane near Yatsusaka, Kyoto on New Year’s Day (circa 1950). The rectangular shop sign reads tabako (tobacco). The round lantern sign could be a shop or Japanese inn sign and reads Sennari
Private collection Great Britain

Eiichi Kotozuka was, “born in Osaka, graduated from the Kyoto Kaiga Semmon Gakko (Technical School of Painting) in 1930. From 1932, he exhibited prints with Shun’yokai (Spring Principle Association), an artist’s organization that exhibited Western-style art. He also exhibited with the government sponsored Teiten. He was a member of Nihon Hanga Kyokai (Japan Print Association) from 1938. In addition to print making, Kotozuka exhibited Japanese-style paintings with the artists’ organization Seiryusha, which he helped found in 1929. He was also a co-founder of Koryokusha in 1948 with fellow artists Tokuriki Tomikichiro (1902-2000), Kamei Tōbei  (1901-1977) and Tasaburo Takahashi (1904-1977) which they set up to publish their creative prints (sosaku hanga). After WWII he created a number of designs for the publisher Uchida Publishing, including his most famous series Eight Snow Scenes of Kyoto.” Source The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints.

The same scene today
Source and © Photogenic Japan

 

Heritage Calling

Ahead of this year’s Heritage Open Days, we met up with two Archaeological Conservators for Historic England.

Based at historic Fort Cumberland in Hampshire (pictured), Angela Middleton (AM) and Karla Graham (KG) tell us about their favourite finds, and what got them interested in archaeological objects.

First thing’s first – what is an Archaeological Conservator?

AM: We look after objects that have been excavated from terrestrial and marine environments. We investigate them to find out who made them and why, and devise a conservation programme to preserve them.

KG: We also look at the sites that they came from and the type of soils, and how to conserve objects that are still buried in the ground.

IMG_2315 Angela preparing a wooden artefact for vacuum-freeze drying.

How did you get into this kind of work?

AM: I always liked working with my hands, and initially wanted to go into carpentry. From…

View original post 701 more words

Odin? and Fylfot motif in the porch of the church at Great Canfield in Essex, England
©
The Heritage Trust

Olivia Rudgard, Religious Affairs Correspondent for The Telegraph, reports that –

A group of pagans has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury demanding two churches to make amends for those it says were stolen 1,300 years ago.

The Odinist Fellowship, which represents 1,000 members of the pagan religion, wrote to the Church of England last month asking for two churches to be returned to make up for actions which took place during the Christianisation of England.

The letter, addressed directly to Archbishop Welby, said: “With a view to re-establishing better relations between the Odinist Fellowship and the Christian churches in England, and persuaded that a restitution of past wrongs is the best way to lay the foundations of improved relations, we wish you to be aware that the great majority of Odinists believe that honour requires the English church to issue a public apology for its former crimes against the Odinists.”

Full article here. Please see also our other features on Subsumed sites and artistic works.

 

Stowe’s Hill report by Roy Goutté.

The tower building continues but with further concerns…

Image credit and © Roy Goutté

Stowe’s Pound is sited atop a prominent granite ridge to the north of Minions village in the south-eastern sector of Bodmin Moor. The hill itself is perhaps best known as the site of the Cheesewring, famous in folklore, and of Cheesewring Quarry, which has taken a massive bite out of the hill’s southern tip. The hill is sited at the edge of the moorland, overlooking Rillaton Moor and Witheybrook Marsh, to the south and west, and the upper reaches of the River Lynher to the east; the tors of Dartmoor can be seen on the distant skyline.

Two massive stone-walled enclosures encircle the summit of the ridge, a small tear-drop shaped primary enclosure, encircling the tors at the southern end of the hill, and a larger subsidiary enclosure which encloses the large whale-backed summit ridge of the hill. These enclosures are similar in many ways to the excavated tor enclosures at Carn Brea and Helman Tor, which are dated to the early Neolithic period (4000 – 3500 BC).

Though very ruinous, the ramparts of the smaller enclosure still stand in places up to 5 metres in height and are between 5 and 15 metres wide. It must once have been a very imposing structure. The larger enclosure, though clearly secondary, might still be contemporary with the other. Its ramparts are noticeably slighter and vary between 5 and 10 metres in width. It has two clearly identifiable entrances on the west and east sides and several other smaller gaps and later stone quarries along the walling in between. There are traces of at least two roughly concentric outer ramparts, best seen on the north-eastern side, and other outworks flank the hill slopes. Curiously, there are no identifiable entrances through the walls of the small enclosure, and no gate or passage providing a link between the interiors of the two enclosures.

(Historic Environment Service of Cornwall County Council)

In 2014, I and other members of the TimeSeekers volunteer clearance group, were asked to help with the removal of the illegal ‘towers’ being built on Stowe’s Pound’s rampart defence walls (see above photo). Granite blocks were being removed from where they have lain for 1000’s of years making up the defensive ramparts, a simple but ingenious method of keeping an enemy at bay in this age of very basic weaponry. They were not removed far however, as in the main the towers were being built on top of the ramparts itself, but nevertheless, it was an illegal act as they were damaging a Scheduled Monument.

We spent quite a few hours not just pulling them down, but placing each stone back carefully into the areas that had suffered the most. The ones that had been most exposed to the elements over the years had growth on them, so selecting the top and side stones were made much easier. It may not sound that important but the fact was that the monument was being damaged even though we are supposed to be living in an ‘enlightened age’. What made matters worse was that schoolchildren were encouraged to build them and helped by their parents. Even as we were pulling them down others were being built nearby so those responsible received a friendly warning. What was really worrying was the common reply, ‘Well they’re only stones aren’t they’.

2015 was a ’quiet’ year in comparison with a few towers appearing spasmodically and much the same in 2016 although it did see the commencement of a new approach by the ’builders’ which is slowly growing.

As the following short video will show, the rampart stones are now also being removed and carried over to the large natural granite stones lying around within the Pound and towers erected on them. On completion, they are then left standing or pushed over and the builders walk away leaving the stones lying in the grass or in the gulleys created by those large stones being close together. The result, if left like that, are the ramparts slowly diminishing in height in places and the removed stones scattered around the inside of the Pound! This cannot be allowed to continue!

Video credit and © Roy Goutté

If asked to help out again, members of TimeSeekers will be pleased to assist in the re-gathering of the removed stones – of which there are many more than shown – and return them to their rightful location. In the meantime, in my opinion, suitable signage should be seriously considered by the powers that be to ensure that this outrage should not be continued.

However, to finish on a more pleasant note, enjoy the serenity of a quadcopter fly-over above Stowe’s Hill, the Cheesewring and the Pound. Wonderful.

Drone Video
Devon & Beyond 2016
Cheesewring Minions Bodmin Moor Cornwall from above DJI Phantom 4 drone

 

 

Alan Graham excavating the Frome Hoard

Sam Moorhead, Finds Adviser, Portable Antiquities Scheme, British Museum writes on the British Museum bog here

When working with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), the concept of a ‘forward job plan’ is somewhat laughable – your work patterns are largely dictated by finds made by detectorists. Some discoveries can completely change your career as the Frome Hoard did for me when it was found by Dave Crisp in April 2010.

Dave had dug down a foot into the ground when he started to pull out pottery and coins from the clay soil. When he realised that he had found a coin hoard, he made one of the most important decisions of his life – he filled the hole in, walked away, and contacted his local PAS Finds Liaison Officer for Wiltshire, Katie Hinds. Katie contacted her opposite number in Somerset, Anna Booth, and a professional excavation of the site took place under the direction of local archaeologist Alan Graham.

Mike Pitts – Digging Deeper

Passmore 1922.jpg

The wonderful HEIR Project in Oxford has prompted me to follow up my previous post about Avebury. I showed two images there, said to be dated 1895 (a photo) and November 15–18, 1895 (a painting). HEIR helpfully pointed out in a tweet that Underhill dated the painting August 23 1895, which makes more sense than November, and suggests he may have made it on site rather than from his photo (notwithstanding his stylised flowers, which he seems to have rather liked in his paintings). The ADAS images are in fact from their archive, where there are more old Avebury shots.

Among them are these two above, taken by AD Passmore in 1922 on the course of the West Kennet Avenue, looking west just south of the A4 (over the hedge on the right), west of the turning south to East Kennet and not far from the Sanctuary.

On the…

View original post 104 more words

Hokusai Cinema Trailer. 4 June 2017

Don’t miss the world première of British Museum presents Hokusai at your local cinema on 4 June 2017. This ground-breaking feature documentary is the first British film to be made about the celebrated Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.

Co-produced with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), British Museum presents: Hokusai will be introduced by Andrew Graham-Dixon and feature artists David Hockney, Grayson Perry, Rebecca Salter and Maggi Hambling along with leading scholars of the day.

More here.

 

 
 
A selection of Roman coins discovered by metal detectorists in Worcestershire in 2011
 
Sebastian Richards, writing for the Cotswold Journal, reports that the Broadway Museum and Art Gallery is exhibiting the Bredon Hoard of Roman coins until the end of May –
 
Two metal detectorists discovered the hoard, the largest ever found in Worcestershire [West Midlands of England], in June 2011. The hoard dates back to the 3rd Century and features 16 different Roman Emperors. Following the discovery, the county archaeology service took over the excavation and it became evident that not only had a hoard been found but also a settlement site with a long and intriguing history.
 
More here.
 
 
 
International Museum Day 2017
 
The worldwide community of museums celebrate International Museum Day on and around 18 May 2017 around the theme Museums and contested histories: Saying the  unspeakable in museums.
 
This theme focuses on the role of museums that, by working to benefit society, become hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people. The acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation.
 
Saying the unspeakable in museums looks at how to understand the incomprehensible aspects of the contested histories inherent to the human race. It also encourages museums to play an active role in peacefully addressing traumatic histories through mediation and multiple points of view.
 
More here.
 

A rare Anglo-Saxon penny bearing the name Jænberht.  Jænberht was Archbishop of Canterbury in the late 8th century. The penny is only the second of its kind known to be in existence
Source Ferrari Press Agency. Image credit Dix Noonan Webb
 
The penny was found by a metal detectorist in a field in Faversham (southern England) last September. Mr Carlile, who found the penny, is reported as saying that at first he thought it was just a button. “It wasn’t until I took it back to the finds tent that I realised it was a coin and it was found to be Anglo-Saxon.”
 
The full importance of the coin did not become apparent until it was examined by experts at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
 
More here.
 

Hokusai’s The Great Wave. Woodblock print published between 1829 and 1833

The British Museum’s special exhibition features some of Hokusai’s best-known masterpieces and will explore the work of one of Japan’s greatest artists.

Featuring loans from across the world, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these works together. Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) is widely regarded as one of Japan’s most famous and influential artists. He produced works of astonishing quality right up until his death at the age of 90.

This new exhibition will lead you on an artistic journey through the last 30 years of Hokusai’s life – a time when he produced some of his most memorable masterpieces.

Hokusai: beyond the Great Wave
25 May – 13 August (closed 3–6 July).
Book now here.

Supported by Mitsubishi Corporation.

 

Recently revealed, a rare William Caxton printed manuscript circa 1476
Image credit University of Reading

Sean Coughlan, Education correspondent for BBC News, reports today on the recently revealed rare William Caxton printed manuscript dating from around 1476 –

Pages printed more than 500 years ago by William Caxton, who brought printing to England, have been discovered by the University of Reading.

There are no other known surviving examples of these two pages anywhere in the world, from a book believed to have been printed in London in the 1470s. The pages had been “under their noses” unrecognised in the library’s archives.

Erika Delbecque, special collections librarian at the university, described the find as “incredibly rare”. The two pages, with religious texts in medieval Latin, were produced by Caxton at his pioneering printing works in Westminster – and are now going on public display for the first time since they were sold from his print shop in the 15th Century. They are believed to be from the earliest years of Caxton’s printing press, either 1476 or 1477, and are being hailed as a remarkable discovery.

The pages will go on public display from today to 30 May at the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading, England.

More here.

 

Marking World Heritage Day today we are focusing on the ancient Japanese art of picture conservation and mounting known as Hyōgu.

1923 woodblock print after the earliest known image of a hyōgushi priest and his assistant Original by the 14th century Japanese painter Fujiwara Takakane
Private collection Great Britain

Hyōgu and the hyōgushi

The art of restoring and mounting works of art on paper and silk has been practiced in the Far East for nearly two millennia. Originating first in China at the beginning of the Christian era, conservation techniques and materials then spread to Japan where they developed into the refined art that we now know as Hyōgu.

The word Hyōgu means a picture or piece of calligraphy lined with paper and mounted as a hanging scroll. The words hyōgushi, hyōguya and kyōji refer to the mounter/conservators of Japan who not only repair and mount hanging scrolls but also conserve other forms of pictorial art such as the handscroll, screens, sliding doors, murals etc.

The hyōgushi of today is required to undergo a long and strict period of training. During this time he or she learns not only the skills which will enable him to conserve scrolls, screens etc, but also the knowledge and sensitivity required to present them in their correct context. He must know the appropriate style of mount used for any subject and be aware, for example, of the meanings associated with the patterned silks used with such mounts. He or she must also know how and where an object will be used as this will often dictate the materials and techniques employed in its conservation.

Like the Western bookbinder, the hyōgushi is responsible for objects which must be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The objects he is conserving are made to be opened and closed, rolled and unrolled and, apart from the demands of conservation and aesthetics, the hyōgushi must always bear in mind that they are to be constantly handled and not merely viewed.

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