You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2013.

 
 
The Herefordshire Halls site during excavation. Image credit Manchester University
 
ScienceDaily reports yesterday that –
 
The remains of two large 6000-year-old halls, each buried within a prehistoric burial mound, have been discovered by archaeologists from The University of Manchester and Herefordshire Council — in a UK first.
 
The sensational finds on Dorstone Hill, near Peterchurch in Herefordshire, were thought to be constructed between 4000 and 3600 BC. Some of the burnt wood discovered at the site shows the character of the building’s structure above ground level- in another UK first. The buildings, probably used by entire communities, are of unknown size, but may have been of similar length to the Neolithic long barrows beneath which they were found — 70metres and 30m long. They were, say the team, deliberately burnt down after they were constructed and their remains incorporated into the two burial mounds.
 
The buildings were likely to have been long structures with aisles, framed by upright posts, and with internal partitions. Professor of archaeology from The University of Manchester Julian Thomas and Dr Keith Ray Herefordshire Council’s County Archaeologist, co-directed the excavation Professor Thomas said: “This find is of huge significance to our understanding of prehistoric life- so we’re absolutely delighted. “It makes a link between the house and a tomb more forcefully than any other investigation that has been ever carried out.”
 
Full article here. See also the BBC News feature and video here.

 

No Ball Games by Banksy. Photo credit ROMANY WG

Peter Walker, writing in The Guardian yesterday (Friday, 26 July 2013) reports that –

Not so long ago the appearance of a work by the superstar graffiti artist Bansky was a source of curiosity and local pride. Now it seems it mainly spells a commercial opportunity. For the second time this year a Banksy work sprayed on a shop wall in north London has disappeared, most likely to be sold at auction, to the consternation of residents and the local council.

A month after Slave Labour – a jubilee-themed mural depicting a child making union flag bunting – sold for more than £750,000 after being removed from the side of a Poundland in Wood Green, an even better-known work has gone from nearby Tottenham. No Ball Games, which appeared on a convenience store in September 2009, is one of the secretive Bristol-born artist’s most celebrated recent images. Typical of Banksy’s blunt polemic style, it shows a pair of stencilled children with their hands raised towards a floating piece of paper bearing the title’s words. Locals became concerned when the side of the building was covered in scaffolding and wooden hoardings this week. The graffiti has now gone, having been split into three pieces for removal.

As with Slave Labour, it has emerged that the people behind this process is Sincura Group, an upmarket concierge service that describes itself on its website as “acquiring access to the inaccessible”.

Both the No Ball Games and the Slave Labour murals are now certainly inaccessible to the general public who, no doubt, Banksy originally intended them for! Is it not time to ‘List’ outstanding works of graffiti, by artist such as Banksy, so that their ‘removal’ cannot be allowed without due process?

Full Guardian article here. See also our previous features on Banksy here and here.

 

W J Ford’s Engineering Works, circa 1906. George Butcher (centre with white shirt and cap) is possibly the father of the ploughman who uncovered the Mildenhall Treasure of Roman silver in January 1942 or 1943

Roald Dahl (1916–1990) in the preface to his book The Mildenhall Treasure, explains how, in 1946, he read a newspaper article about the remarkable find of a hoard of 4th century Roman silver unearthed by a ploughman in a field in Suffolk, England. Dahl writes that, “The newspaper article said it was the greatest treasure ever found in the British Isles, and it had now been acquired by the British Museum. True stories about the finding of really big treasure sent shivers of electricity all the way down my legs to the soles of my feet… I leapt up from my chair without finishing my breakfast.” Dahl immediately drove to Mildenhall to interview the ploughman involved. The man, one Gordon Butcher, eventually agreed to tell Dahl what had happened on the day of the find and, based on the ploughman’s account, Dahl used it as the basis for his story. The story was subsequently published in America in The Saturday Evening Post and Dahl, as promised, sent half the money he received from its publication to Butcher.

The Mildenhall Treasure by Roald Dahl. Illustrations by Ralph Steadman

Dahl’s story was first published in Great Britain in 1977 in the collection The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. It was published again by Jonathan Cape in 1999, this time with numerous stunning illustrations by Ralph Steadman (see Illustrating the discovery of the Mildenhall treasure by Ralph Steadman ). It tells how Gordon Butcher, the Suffolk ploughman who, working alone one cold winter’s morning, uncovered the greatest hoard of Roman silver ever found in the British Isles; a hoard unparalleled in beauty and value. And how, not appreciating what he had discovered, was cheated out of the fortune that should rightly have been his. Instead, the hoard remained hidden by a man called Ford (who Butcher was working for at the time but not on whose land the treasure was found) until it was rediscovered four years later in Ford’s home.

The Mildenhall Treasure was subsequently secured for the nation and is now on display at the British Museum. A special exhibition entitled Silver service: Fine dining in Roman Britain is currently running at the Museum until 4 August 2013. Admission is free.

See also our earlier feature Focusing on the smaller museum: The Mildenhall Museum here.

 

 
One of three, 15th century wall paintings visible in St Mary’s Church, Bartlow, Cambridgeshire. The painting depicts St Christopher with the Christ Child on his left shoulder
©
The Heritage Trust
 

Describing St Mary’s Curch the Bedforshire Parishes website states that –

 
Lysons, in his Magna Britannia, states that Bartlow is the Church built by King Canute in 1020 AD in reparation for the blood spilled in the battle of Assandune (Ashdon) between the Saxons and the Danes. This is disputed by later authorities, and Ashingdon in S Essex is the most likely site of the battle.
 
 
St Mary’s Church, Bartlow, Cambridgeshire
Image credit Moss
 
The Bartlow Burial Mounds are reached by following the left-hand path from the front of the church. See our earlier features on the Bartlow Burial Mounds here and here.
 
 
 
1910 photograph depicting the excavation of the Coldrum Stones
Kent Archaeological Society
 
Writing in Kent News on Monday, Joe Bill reports on the digitization of old photographs recording the excavation of the Coldrum Stones in Kent, south-east England, undertaken by Benjamin Harrison and Flinders Petrie in 1910 –
 
Now a series of 100-year-old pictures of the stones have finally been committed to a digital format to be enjoyed by future generations. Previously held on glass plate negatives, they record the 1910 excavation of the structure and the human bones that were unearthed at the site.
 
Denis Anstey, head of IT for the Kent Archaeological Society, said: “The pictures are among thousands of images of Kent dating from the early 18th century to the late 20th century that the KAS has collected since it was founded in 1857. “Some of them are now very delicate and they will inevitably continue to deteriorate with time, so it is very important we keep them in digital format. This will enable us to offer the images to local historians, researchers and publishers long after the originals become too fragile to copy.”
 
Full article here.
 
 
 
Image credit World Monuments Fund
 
The World Monuments Fund has announced that –
 
WMF’s Everyday Preservationist Photo Contest is underway, and if you haven’t already submitted, please join today! We want to see what preservation looks like to you. You’re invited to share your favorite photos of the architecture, landscapes, historic centers, archeological sites, and other special places you’ve found most compelling.
 
Whether you’ve found inspiration close to home or during a memorable trip, perhaps years ago or even during this summer’s vacation, you probably already have many images that fall within our five Everyday Preservationist categories.
 
From July 1-31, World Monuments Fund invites photographers of all levels to submit original, evocative digital images that advocate for historic sites by reflecting their aesthetic beauty and importance to the communities in which they are located. WMF sends preservation experts to endangered sites all over the world, but there are things you can do closer to home to help save the world’s most treasured places. Becoming an everyday preservationist is as easy as sharing something special about your hometown, a favorite vacation spot, or someplace you’ve always wanted to visit.
 
Closing dates for entries is 31 July 2013.
 
Details here. Submission form here.
 
 
  
Figurine of a lion, carved from mammoth ivory and now with its head re-attached. The figurine was found at the Vogelherd Cave in South-west Germany and is approximately 40,000 years old
Photo by H Jensen. Credit: University of Tübingen
 
Phys.org reports on Thursday that –
 
Researchers from the University of Tübingen have successfully re-attached the newly discovered head of a prehistoric mammoth-ivory figurine discovered in 1931. The head was found during renewed excavations at Vogelherd Cave, site of the original dig in 1931. The recent excavations, between 2005 and 2012, have yielded a number of important finds. The discovery of this ivory head helps to complete a figurine which now can be recognized as a lion – and demonstrates that it is possible to reassemble often fragmentary figurines from the earlier excavation. The new discovery is presented in the 2013 edition of the journal “Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg”.
 
Full article here.
 
 
 
Carved post dating from the late Mesolithic or early Neolithic era
 
BBC News Wales reports yesterday on a carved post, dating from the late Mesolithic or early Neolithic era (6,270bce), which was found last September at the Maerdy Wind Farm in Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales –
 
A Stone Age wooden post that is thought to be one of the oldest artefacts of its kind in Europe has been unearthed at a wind farm site in south Wales.
 
The “intricately” carved timber has been dated as 6,270 years old, from the late Mesolithic or early Neolithic era. The discovery was made in September 2012 at Maerdy Wind Farm in Rhondda Cynon Taf. It is thought the 1.7m (5ft 6in) tall post may have marked a tribal boundary, hunting [g]round or sacred site.
 
The post has been examined by experts from the University of Wales, Trinity St David, and the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust. It was discovered during work to install a sub-station at the wind farm by Scotland-based firm 2020 Renewables. Alan Baker, of 2020 Renewables, said: “This is a tremendous discovery of real historical significance. It’s very exciting that this discovery has proved to be of such international significance and fully justifies our company policy of protecting sites of historic interest.”
 
Full article here. See also the Project Report by Heritage Recording Services Wales  here which concludes with –
 
This unique and enigmatic timber is now undergoing a conservation program of wax-glycol treatment at the York Archaeological Trust in York, where it is expected to stay until 2014. Once this conservation work is completed the timber will be transferred to the National Museum Cardiff. It is hoped that it will be displayed in the new galleries at the National History Museum, St Fagans.
 
 
 
[Taylor, Richard], 1805-1873: A crying at Tuware for Te Heuheu. June 1846.
Taylor, Richard, 1805-1873: Sketchbook. 1835-1860. Ref: E-296-q-002-3.
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22771834
 

Kia ora, The Heritage Trust. We need your help please.

Our whanau [extended family or political unit in the Māori culture of New Zealand] have recently had to endure a case where the DOC entered our whenua [land] without permission. It is the old Hipawa landslide site at Waihi, on the southern lake of Taupo, which is designated as an archaeological site. This is the site where Mananui Teheuheu, paramount chief of Tuwharetoa, was killed along with our whanau, in 1846. Over 200 of our dead have lain at the site since 1780.

The DOC drove over the remains of our tupapaku [ancestors] and over our waahi tapu [“A waahi tapu site has been identified by the Iwi or Hapu [peoples] as a place that is spiritually and culturally important.”] as if it was just another property. They pleaded ignorance but this is unacceptable considering they have access to websites such as yours and were told previously not to enter due to the land being waahi tapu. Is this desecration? They did not telephone us or talk to Kaumatua at all before they entered.

What view does The Heritage Trust hold when incidents like this happen.

Rawiri Paurini

 

Lanyon Quoit, Cornwall
©
The Heritage Trust
 
 
Look not softly,
 
Stranger, upon this Stone Age scene,
Nor let remoteness
Disguise where living men have been
In grief and laughter.
Though all’s now hushed and gaunt and harsh,
You are standing where humanity once stood.
These stones seal a sepulchre
For your own flesh and blood.
 
Here lie our forebears,
Though their memorials have no name.
How should we know them,
If from the grave these tribesmen came?
What was their language?
No echo in the southwest wind
Recalls one word one single warrior said.
Ravaged granite stays to mark
The lost unlettered dead.
 
Here lie their women,
Short-lived mothers of chance-reared young.
The artless lullabies
This Cornish hillside once heard sung,
Their mourners’ dirges,
Are as soundless to this world’s ears
As to the deaf that skylark’s note above.
Cold silence grips their converse
And all their songs of love.
 
Arthur Caddick (1911-1987)
 
 

The Trippet Stones is the name given to a stone circle set in a somewhat isolated and windswept part of Bodmin Moor, on Manor Common, Blisland, Cornwall. The circle is a Scheduled Monument (number 1928 in the Cornwall County Council Historic Environment Record) and is located at SX13127501.

Every now and again you witness something that totally astonishes you, and when that something is an action that goes totally against everything you hold dear, then it can often leave you both speechless and seething with anger inside.

We have all spoken out many times against the wanton damage, defacing and destruction that is all to often associated with stone circles, whether it be the more nationally known iconic ones such as Avebury and Stonehenge or those of lesser stature spread throughout the land. One of those lesser ones, although certainly iconic in Cornwall where it resides, are the Trippet Stones… a Scheduled Monument (see specifically section 28 in the link).

On the 5th of July 2013 this was the astonishing scene filmed at 2pm when, as the video shows, cattle were purposely driven across Manor Common causing them, on the whole, to enter and pass through the circle thus creating a situation where a Scheduled Monument was seriously put in danger.

Unbelievably, just one week earlier, Natural England seriously warned the Commoners about farming vehicles being driven through and too close to the circle. Although a vehicle didn’t enter the circle on this occasion but did get very close to it, this is surely the most extreme example yet as to why monuments such as the Trippet Stones need physical protection as a matter of great urgency as words appear to mean nothing. Today the Trippet Stones… next week?

  
The Rillaton Gold Cup. Early Bronze Age (1,800-1,600bce)
On loan to the British Museum from the Royal Collections
Image: The Heritage Trust
 
Continuing with our Cornish theme we’ve chosen the Rillaton Gold Cup as July’s Object of the Month. The cup was found in a burial cairn at Rillaton on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. Quoting from the British Museum’s online entry on the Rillaton Cold Cup which states that –
 
Workmen engaged in construction work in 1837 plundered a burial cairn for stone on part of Bodmin Moor, at Rillaton. In one side of the mound they came upon a stone-lined vault, or cist, 2.4 m long and 1.1 m wide. It contained the decayed remains of a human skeleton accompanied by this gold cup, a bronze dagger and other objects that have not survived – a decorated pottery vessel, a ‘metallic rivet’, ‘some pieces of ivory’ and ‘a few glass beads’. The pot and gold cup were set beneath a slab leaning against the west wall of the cist.
 
More here.
 
 
The Ringlemere Gold Cup (right). Early Bronze Age (1,800-1,600bce)
Collection of the British Museum
 
The Rillaton Gold Cup is in a case with the Ringlemere Cup which, to quote from the British Museum again –
 
This crushed object was found in November 2001 by Cliff Bradshaw, while metal detecting near Ringlemere in east Kent. It is one of the most important recent finds in Britain. Cliff had been studying archaeology and realized that the object was gold and probably ancient. Researching further, he found a picture of the only Bronze Age gold cup found in Britain – the Rillaton cup. Cliff realized his discovery was important and reported it.
 
An archaeological dig took place to find out more about where the cup was found. This revealed that the cup came from a massive burial mound surrounded by a circular ditch. Scientists and archaeologists at the British Museum also examined the cup using X-rays and an endoscope. We now know that it was worked from a single ingot of gold using a hammer and former and we can recreate its shape. It was not crushed when first buried, but was damaged by farming [deep ploughing].
 
More here.
 
 

A guest feature by Roy Goutté. Unless otherwise stated text and images © Roy Goutté

The bowl depressions in the granite stones to the highest point on Stowe’s Hill. The famous Cheesewring formation is seen in the background looking back toward the Hurlers Stone Circles. Note the groove cut into the lip allowing the water out. Are it and the bowls natural?

Image
©
The Heritage Trust

Following on from the Trust’s Outreach Event 2013 report, I would like to make a few personal observations with regard to the bowl depressions on Stowe’s Hill (Stowe’s Pound) as reported. The jury is still out, but in the main the opinion is that they are natural, but can that really be proven or did we play a far greater role in their manufacture than is generally believed? We have seen what Neolithic man was capable of when it comes to working with stone so maybe they did in fact ‘finish them off’ as a matter of need, because they are far more complex than is generally thought and worth looking at again… along with another water source in the same rock formation. Firstly though, information on Stowe’s Hill Tor itself here.

The highest natural rock formation on Stowes Hill Tor. The top stone tips onto the bowled stone to its right where much of its rainwater runs onto

Another view of the bowls

Note the more natural looking (smoother and rounder) depression to top right. I’m wondering if all three depressions were once very much like this and just shallow as presumably they are equally aged? There is no water supply on the hill which was once occupied so any source of water would have been most welcome rather than wondering off onto the moor to a more regular supply. The upper sections and edges of both lower bowls are very fragmented, unlike their base sections which are far more rounded. Why should that be when the third bowl’s appearance is much more rounded and smooth all over with no ‘working’ to the top rim like the others? It leads me to believe that those lower bowls were indeed deepened and widened by hand to hold more water and as the photos show, there is a channel formed between these two bowls linking them up and another to allow the water to run out in a controlled fashion into containers placed below. It may be then that nature took a hold again and smoothed the deepened bowls to the condition we see them in today. Take a look now at a further water-gathering point immediately beneath the stone with the triple bowls.

The stone on the left is the stone with the three bowls in it and the one above, the capping stone that the water runs off and into the bowls and dished out area beneath. This dished area is more tear-drop shaped and shallow, yet has a comparatively wide run-off channel attached to it.

The same channel as seen from the dispersal end. It seems very wide and deep to have been formed naturally from such a small body of water. Could this be another man-made channel leading to a collection container beneath the rock? We see huge slabs of stone lying all over the place on Bodmin Moor, some having bowl depressions in, either natural or otherwise, yet you don’t see channels like this in them formed by the overspill of water. The only thing to conclude is that they are man-made.

What would be the opinion of other readers of these pages?

 

Europa Nostra has announced that –

Each year, Europa Nostra and the European Union reward the best of cultural heritage achievements. Through our European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards, we celebrate excellence and dedication by architects, craftsmen, volunteers, schools, local communities, heritage owners and media. Through the power of their example we stimulate creativity and innovation.

The awards celebrate exemplary restorations and initiatives of the many facets of Europe’s cultural heritage in 4 categories. Every year, up to six monetary awards of €10.000 each are awarded to the top laureates in the various categories.

Criteria for the assessment of entries include excellence in the work executed and preliminary research conducted, as well as respect for artistic, cultural and social value, setting, authenticity and integrity. Special attention will also be paid to sustainability, interpretation and presentation, educational work, funding and management, and social responsibility. Entries can be on a scale ranging from small to large, local to international, and should display a standard of work considered outstanding in a European context.

The European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards 2014 deadline is the 9 September 2013. Watch the Call for Entries video here and then submit your project. Outstanding achievements in the field of heritage conservation and enhancement will be awarded in the following categories:

1. Conservation
2. Research
3. Dedicated Service by Individuals or Organisations
4. Education, Training and Awareness-Raising

Entry Forms are now available on the Europa Nostra website

Closing date for submission of entries: 9 September 2013 (date of sending)

For more information, please contact:

Elena Bianchi
EUROPA NOSTRA
The Voice of Cultural Heritage in Europe
Lange Voorhout 35
NL – 2514 EC Den Haag
T +31 70 302 40 58
F +31 70 361 78 65
E eb[at]europanostra[dot]org

Folio 27r from the 18th century Lindisfarne Gospels contains the incipit from the Gospel of Matthew
Source Wikimedia Commons

The Lindisfarne Gospels book is one of the greatest landmarks of human cultural achievement. Created by the community of St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne it is one of the best examples of Medieval creativity and craftsmanship.

The Lindisfarne Gospels Durham exhibition presents for the first time the extraordinary full story of the Lindisfarne Gospels, exploring how and why this masterpiece was created, its influence on Medieval Europe and how artistic traditions from Britain and the Mediterranean mainland came together in North East England.

At the centre of the exhibition in Durham University’s Palace Green Library is the gospel book itself, written in honour of St Cuthbert. In addition many fabulous artefacts from Anglo-Saxon England will be on show including ornate gold objects from the Staffordshire Hoard, intricately carved stone from Lindisfarne and silver from Hexham, alongside some very special medieval manuscripts such as the St Cuthbert Gospel and the Durham Gospels. These items place the Lindisfarne Gospels within a wider context of Anglo-Saxon creativity and show how incredibly complex and elaborate Medieval craftsmanship was.

The Lindisfarne Gospels, Durham exhibition, is now open to the public until 30 September 2013 (10am – 10pm daily). More here.

 

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