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William Gowland standing in the main burial chamber of one of the Tsukahara Kofun mounds
Trustees of the British Museum
A workshop entitled Treasures from the ancient Japanese mounded tombs: current research on the Gowland Collection will be held on Saturday, 19 March 2016 from 09.30–13.00 in the Sackler Rooms, Clore Centre, the British Museum.
A half-day symposium where Japanese and British specialists will present the findings of their major research project into the Gowland Collection of Kofun period materials (3rd-7th centuries AD) held at the British Museum. These artefacts and archive, acquired by William Gowland during his long sojourn in Japan in the later 19th century, comprise a unique collection outside Japan, illuminating both the history of Japanese archaeology and the origins of the state in Japan, when rulers were buried in some of the largest burial monuments of the ancient world.
Admission is free but pre-registration is advised as seats are limited. To register please contact See also our earlier feature on William Gowland: Father of Japanese Archaeology here.
Detail of The Martyrdom of Edmund on the north wall of the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering, North Yorkshire, England
A project to highlight one of North Yorkshire’s hidden pictorial gems is being launched in Pickering this evening. The Pickering Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul is aiming to conserve its medieval wall paintings and improve visitor facilities through a Heritage Lottery Fund project entitled Let there be Light.
Pickering Church contains the most complete set of medieval wall paintings so far discovered in Britain (see our earlier feature here). The paintings, executed over 500 years ago, remained hidden under a thick coat of plaster until they were accidentally rediscovered in 1852. The Church is now working closely with the University of York on the best way to conserve and display these unique works of art.
This evening’s launch event will begin at 7:30 and will include a talk  by Dr. Kate Giles, leading expert on the paintings. There is no charge for the evening and those attending will have the opportunity to offer views and suggestions on the project.
A cognocenti contemplating ye beauties of ye antique
Caricature of Sir William Hamilton (Scottish diplomat, volcanologist and collector of antiquities) by James Gillray (1756 – 1815)
The Trustees of the British Museum
The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, Wiltshire, England will be hosting a lecture by James Ede, Chairman of Charles Ede Ltd, on Saturday, 5 March 2016 from 2:30pm. The talk, entitled Guardians of the Past or Looters? Connoisseurship, Collecting and the Trade in Antiquities, will fall into two parts. “The first deals with the revival of interest in the ancient world, the history of collecting (some of it scandalous) and the foundation of museums. The second part examines the importance of the trade and the challenges we face in the light of events in the Near East.”
Details here.

The 9th century Alfred Jewel depicting either Alfred the Great or Christ
Image credit the Ashmolean Museum

The Alfred Jewel was found in a peat bog in North Petherton, Somerset, England in 1693 but has been kept at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford since 1718. North Petherton is about eight miles from where King Alfred the Great founded a monastery at Athelney. The Jewel is made of rock crystal, enamel and gold and bears the inscription, in Old English, AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN (Alfred Ordered Me Made). It is thought to have been one of several commissioned by King Alfred and once formed the top of a pointer used for reading or translating manuscripts.

Now, for the first time in nearly 300 years, the Alfred Jewel will return to Somerset where it will be on display at The Museum of Somerset from 31 January to 28 February 2015. Talks by two leading Anglo-Saxon experts will take place during the exhibition period. One by Professor Simon Keynes of Cambridge University on 11 February and the other by Leslie Webster of the British Museum on 25 February.



The Inch bulla (locket) from County Down, Ireland
The locket above forms part of a display at the Ulster Museum, Northern Ireland. To accompany the display there will also be a series of talks and a BBC film, Landscape Mysteries: in search of Irish gold on Saturday, 31 January 2015 from 13:30-16:15. The talks and film will explore stories of treasure, jewellery and science, by highlighting gold objects from the Museum’s archaeological collection.
This event marks the redisplay and interpretation of two remarkable gold objects from the collection – the Corrard, torc (neck-ring) from County Fermanagh and the Inch bulla (locket) from County Down. The current debate surrounding the source of Irish prehistoric gold will be explored; illustrated talks will examine the torc, bulla and other recent discoveries and explain how science has offered new insights into the study of Irish Bronze Age gold.
More here.
Reproduction of a bison from one of the Altamira cave paintings
Source Wikimedia Commons. Image credit Rameessos
Leeds Inspired is part of the Leeds City Council (West Yorkshire, England) cultural programme that, “…celebrates arts, sport and heritage events throughout the year” and which, supports culture in the city through the Leeds Inspired website, their grants schemes and commissions.”
The Leeds Inspired what’s on website brings together the city’s annual highlights alongside independent events and fleet-of-foot DIY happenings to create an ever changing inspirational cultural calendar. Through our annual grants schemes and commissions we fund cultural projects that create high quality, accessible cultural experiences for Leeds’ residents and visitors alike.
Leeds Inspired is a Leeds City Council initiative and is led by a steering group of partners including West Yorkshire Playhouse, SAA-UK, Cultivate, Leeds Young Authors, Leeds Initiative, Leeds Met Gallery, Phoenix Dance and Duke Studios.
Today (10 December 2014) from 7:00-8:00pm Leeds Inspired welcomes –
David Veron to Otley Library where he will be talking about art through the ages, from cave painting to the work of modern artists, focusing on when these became recognized and accepted as art. David will also talk about his own journey as an artist and the influences that have informed his approach to painting.
David Veron is an accomplished artist specialising in oils, who has been painting since he was fourteen and has practised full time since 2004. His work has been widely exhibited and is owned by private collectors throughout Europe.
Free event. No booking required. More information here.

Katherine Baxter, Curator of Archaeology at Leeds City Museum, holding a terracotta antefix of Medusa. 300-200bce from Lanuvium, Italy

Stephen Lewis, writing in The Press reports that –

Some of the British Museum’s finest Roman treasures have come to Leeds as part of a touring exhibition examining the lives of Romans in Yorkshire.

Roman Empire: Power & People features stunning objects from throughout the Roman world, from Egypt to Italy, Germany and, of course, Roman Britain. The Leeds City Museum has combined the British Museum treasures with Roman objects from its own collection and from other museums in Yorkshire, including York’s own Yorkshire Museum. The result is an exhibition that reflects the power, vastness and might of the Roman Empire, but also considers Britain’s – and Yorkshire’s – place within that empire, says Katherine Baxter, curator of archaeology at Leeds City Museum. It also aims to give a personal insight into what the lives of Romans living here were like: and whether ‘being Roman’ was the same for people in Yorkshire as it was for those in Rome.

To coincide with the exhibition, which runs until 4 January 2015, there will be a series of lectures and family events including talks about rural life in Roman Yorkshire, and a lecture on Roman York.

Full article and further details on the exhibition here.

Japanese Archaeology in the Digital Age
The Launch of A New Online Resource for teaching about Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (ORJACH)
Japan has one of the best archaeological resources in the world. And yet many of the treasures that archaeologists have uncovered throughout the archipelago over the past 150 years remain little known to the outside world. As well as being a valuable research resource, Japan’s archaeology and cultural heritage can contribute to education in many different ways. To help teachers and students, the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, supported by Hitachi Europe Ltd and Hitachi Solutions Ltd, has developed a new English-language Online Resource for Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (ORJACH).
A draft version of ORJACH is currently available at ( and everyone is invited to submit comments and statements of interest via that website, which will help us complete the final version.
ORJACH will be formally launched at a public seminar at the Japan Foundation in London on Tuesday September 23rd, on Japanese Archaeology in the Digital Age, which will set ORJACH in context of other digital archaeology initiatives, including the new free open-access online Japanese Journal of Archaeology published by the Japanese Archaeological Association ( the Digital Repository of Japanese Archaeological Reports, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
6pm:       Registration

6.30pm:  Seminar
– Introductory remarks: Dr Simon Kaner
– Presentation about the Online Resource for Japanese Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (Don Henson, Ben Hui, Nakamura Oki)
– Digital developments in Japanese archaeology (Professor Miyamoto Kazuo)
– Discussant: Professor Julian Richards

8pm:        Drinks reception


This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please e-mail the Sainsbury Institute at

Venue: Tuesday, 23 September 2014 from 6pm at the Japan Foundation London Office, Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square, London WC1B 5EH.

Middle Jomon Period rope pottery 5,000-4,000bce
Image credit: Chris 73 Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Sainsbury Institute is delighted to present the Second Ishibashi Foundation Lecture Series in Tokyo this October, sponsored by the Ishibashi Foundation and co-organised by Tokyo National Museum. Senior scholars from Europe will share their research with the Japanese audience and illustrate the current status of Japanese archaeology and cultural heritage studies in Europe and also how Japanese art and antiquities are studied and displayed in European museums. Lectures will be given in English and simultaneously translated into Japanese. This Lecture Series aim to offer new perspectives in the studies of Japanese arts and cultures and contribute to the promotion of scholarly and artistic exchange between Europe and Japan.

The Stonehenge Urn. Excavated by William Cunnington in 1802


Lecture 1 | 1.30-2.10pm
British-Japanese Archaeological Exchanges from the 19th Century to Today
Simon Kaner
Head, Centre for Archaeology and Heritage, Sainsbury Institute

Lecture 2 | 2.10-2.50pm
Molecular Archaeology: Investigating Diet, Food and Cuisine from Stonehenge to the Jōmon?
Oliver Craig
BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York

Panel Discussion ‘Euro-Japanese archaeological exchanges’ | 3.00-4.00pm
Moderator: Shirai Katsuya, Chief Curator of Archaeology, Curatorial Research Department, Tokyo National Museum

Venue: Tokyo National Museum, Heiseikan Auditorium, 13-9 Ueno Park, Taito-ku, Tokyo, Japan on Saturday, 25 October 2014 from 1.30 – 4pm. Details here.


The Next Bus to Imber: A lecture in aid of The Churches Conservation Trust

There will be a special fundraising event for The Churches Conservation Trust at Bristol St John’s church on the evening of Thursday 29th May 2014. The Churches Conservation Trust is a UK national heritage and conservation charity protecting historic churches at risk. They have saved over 345 beautiful buildings which attract almost 2 million visitors a year. With their help and the support of their volunteers and supporters these buildings are kept open and in use – ‘living once again at the heart of their communities’. For more information please visit

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Commissioner of Transport for London, will give a lecture on his fascinating association with Imber, the former village on Salisbury Plain, now at the centre of a military firing range. Imber boasts a fine medieval church, St Giles, conserved by CCT, cared by the Friends of Imber church and open on those few occasions each year when the public can gain access to this normally restricted area. Many visitors to the church now arrive on vintage buses arranged and driven by Peter and fellow enthusiasts.

The event includes wine, soft drinks and canapés served from 6pm and conducted tours of 14th-century St John’s church and crypt, led by conservationist Dr Neil Rushton, from 6.30pm. St John’s is a Grade I Listed building with the tower and steeple over St John’s Gate, the last remaining gateway built into the medieval city wall.

Tickets cost £18 per head and can be booked online here.


The Art Lover’s Guide to Japanese Museums by Sophie Richard
The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures invites you to join them for –
…a lecture by the author of The Art Lover’s Guide to Japanese Museums and get an insight into the collections, history and characteristics of some of the most distinctive and exciting museums in Japan. We will also have an opportunity to hear from Heidi Potter, Chief Executive of the Japan Society, who are the publishers of the book.
Venue: Wednesday, 5 March 2014 from 6:00 – 7:30pm at the Sainsbury Institute, 64 The Close, Norwich NR1 4DH. More here.
The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution will be debating The Mystery of the Wansdyke on Saturday, 22 March 2014 from 2pm to 5:30pm. See details above. The Wikipedia entry for the Wansdyke reads in part as –
Wansdyke (from Woden’s Dyke) is a series of early medieval defensive linear earthworks in the West Country of England, consisting of a ditch and a running embankment from the ditch spoil, with the ditching facing north. There are two main parts: an eastern dyke which runs between Savernake Forest and Morgan’s Hill in Wiltshire, and a western dyke which runs from Monkton Combe to the ancient hill fort of Maes Knoll in historic Somerset.
Wansdyke’s origins are unclear, but archaeological data shows that the eastern part was probably built during the 5th or 6th century. That is after the withdrawal of the Romans and before the complete takeover by the Anglo-Saxons. The ditch is on the north side, so presumably it was used by the Romano-Britons as a defence against West Saxons encroaching from the upper Thames Valley westward into what is now the West Country.
NB: Part of the Wansdyke is under threat from a housing development. See comment by moss above.
Merlin Building Stonehenge
Manuscript illustration, England, second quarter of the 14th century (British Library, MS Egerton 3028, fol 30)
The International Council on Monuments and Sites UK has announced details of its Annual Christmas Lecture and Reception for 2013. This year’s event will take place in London on the 12 December with a lecture entitled Stonehenge – whose culture? delivered by Julian Richards, archaeologist, writer and broadcaster –
Stonehenge is the most important and studied prehistoric site in Europe, yet still remains an archaeological enigma. But it is also an international cultural icon, its stones instantly recognizable, providing inspiration for medieval manuscript illuminators, artists such as Turner and Constable, among others, and generations of writers, photographers and craftsmen. It seems as if everyone has wanted a piece of Stonehenge, literally so in past centuries, and today the question of ‘Stonehenge – whose culture?’ is as passionately argued over as ever before. ‘Heritage’, tourist magnet or living temple? In 2013 Stonehenge is a place that still inspires passion.
Details and booking form here (PDF).
Mural (circa 55-79ce) unearthed at Pompeii and portraying the baker Terentius Neo and his wife
A lecture ‘Meanwhile, in Britain…’: women under the Roman Empire, by Lindsay Allason-Jones, Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, will take place on Friday, 5 July from 13.15 until 14.15 in the BP Lecture Theatre at the British Museum.
In AD 79 Britain was a new province of the Roman Empire and a very different place to mainland Italy. In this lecture, Lindsay Allason-Jones, considers the changes that the invasion made on southern Britain and how these changes affected the lives of the women of Britannia.
The lecture is free but booking is advised. More here.


Jōmon Dogū from Shakadō, Yamanashi Prefecture. Circa 3,500bce
The Sainsbury Institute announces a lecture by Taniguchi Yasuhiro, Professor of Archaeology, Department of Archaeology at Kokugakuin University, Tokyo entitled How Jōmon People Perceived the Cosmos.
The Jōmon people of prehistoric Japan had fertile imaginations and skillfully expressed their distinctive thinking through rich material culture including pottery and architecture. This lecture introduces the fascinating archaeological remains which illustrates how the cosmos was perceived in Jōmon people’s world view.
The lecture will take place at The Sainsbury Institute in Norwich on 17 January 2013. Details here.


June 2022
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