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Leskernick North & South Stone Circles and Stone Row clearance, including the re-exposure of buried ring stones by the TimeSeekers Clearance Group Team Members. (Part 3 of 3 reports). Text and images © Roy Goutté.

Leskernick Stone Row
SX 18707986 to SX19017991
Field workers:
Roy Goutté
Colin Green
Jacqui Rukin
Stuart Dow
Elizabeth Dale
 
And so we came to the third and final stage of our Leskernick clearance project – the Stone Row. Little did we know at the time but we were in for quite a surprise when we made what could turn out to be potentially an exciting find and if confirmed, one that could have a profound effect on our current understanding of the stone row and possibly the whole Complex itself.
 
We’ve carried out quite a few stone circle clearances now amongst other things, but for me none of them match up to what Leskernick has to offer. The rain and wind it can keep, but the surrounding landscape and the feeling of wonder it offers I’ll take all day long. I felt that ‘something’ made us welcome there and that feeling has only happened to me at one other place on Bodmin Moor even though I love all of it! Even the moor ponies that frequent the area were at ease when in our presence and to see them with their foals wandering about the Settlement like it was now their home very touching.
 
There are other parts of the moor where Rough Tor dominates the skyline and many of our stone circles lie within its gaze, but in this case there is no shadow of a doubt that it is Brown Willy that calls the tune here. Even more so is the draw that if offers when walking the stone row. I’ve never been a ‘for ceremonial and ritual purposes’ man because the term I feel over-used, but I am here, no question as it simply oozes it. As I said in Part 1 of these reports – from the very moment we arrived at Leskernick we felt we were in a special place – a place of wonder and great importance and felt we would find things not recorded here before. By the conclusion of this report you will see that there is a very good chance that we were correct in our assumptions.
 
For the full report click here (PDF).
 

 

Leskernick North & South Stone Circles and Stone Row clearance, including the re-exposure of buried ring stones by the TimeSeekers Clearance Group Team Members (Part 2 of 3 reports). Text and images © Roy Goutté.

 
A view south-east through the North Circle prior to its clearance
Just two of the three earth-fast ring stones and the centre stone visible above ground
 
Leskernick North Stone Circle
SX 18587992
 
First recorded in 1983 by Peter Herring, Leskernick North Stone Circle lies at the southern base of Leskernick Hill on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall on what is generally considered as being the end of the hills clitter line – although in reality it seems to spread out far and wide – and the start of open moorland to the south and east. Along with the South circle about 350 metres to the south-east it is the second of two known circles in this area and both within the dominant gaze of the impressive Brown Willy the highest hill on Bodmin Moor and Cornwall at 420m above sea level.
 
If not for the presence of the 3.9m long ‘whaleback’ recumbent centre stone and two prominent earth-fast ring stones, you would never know the circle existed such is the amount of partly covered clitter it is hidden amongst. Once found however, a third, but not so obvious earth-fast ring stone can then be observed, but after that, precious little. That was the situation when we arrived.
 
The Intent and Methodology of clearing the circle remained the same as at the South Stone Circle and can be seen in Part 1 of these Reports.
 
Commencement date: June 20th 2016.
 
 
TimeSeekers Field workers:
 
Roy Goutté
Colin Green
Jacqui Rukin
Stuart Dow
Elizabeth Dale
 
For the full report click here (PDF).

On the summit of Leskernick Hill looking westward toward Brown Willy and Roughtor

Leskernick Stone Circles and Stone Row Clearance: Press release by Roy Goutté. Images © Roy Goutté.

I am delighted to announce to The Heritage Trust that, after an application was made to Natural England by myself, consent has been granted to excavate and clear the recumbent and buried standing stones of the north and south stone circles to the base of the Bronze-Age settlement at Leskernick Hill, near Altarnun, Cornwall. Consent has also been granted to carry out the same procedure on the stone row running south-west to north-east between the two circles. The work is to be carried out by a small team of experienced Bodmin Moor clearance volunteers (TimeSeekers) under the periodic watchful eye of the area’s Historic England Heritage at Risk Officer.

The Methodology involved:

As the two stone circles and stone row beneath the southern slopes of Leskernick Hill are at serious risk of losing their identity now that 95% of the standing stones have fallen and returning to nature, the aim of the clearance would be to bring the hidden parts of the circles and stone row ‘back to life’ by sympathetically removing the vegetation and turf ‘carpet’ off the stones without damage taking place and without any soil being removed below the exposed top surfaces. The removed material is to be suitably relocated locally.

Procedure:

. Record and photograph the existing visible stones and stone mounds to be cleared prior to work commencing on both the circles and stone row. Video recording to also take place.
. Carefully cut through the turf/vegetation just beyond the exterior edge of the covered/partly covered stones.
. Carefully and without damage to the stone surfaces, peel back the turf/vegetation and reposition in previously sought out local areas requiring repair/improvement. Clean and wash stones off with clean water only.
. Buried ring stones and those in the stone row detected by probing but not identified by exterior mounding of the turf, to be exposed, recorded and photographed, but, if considered to be too deep to be left exposed and a danger to both stock and the public alike, to be re-covered.
. On completion of all work, leave the three cleared areas in a tidy condition and provide a field report and survey of the works carried out together with photographs and video links.

We feel privileged as amateur archaeologists to have been granted this permission on such a prestigious and important site as Leskernick. To stand amongst and look down from the proliferation of round houses on the southern side of Leskernick Hill to the landscape beneath where surely ceremonial and ritualistic activities took place in sight of so many ancient local landmarks, makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Our great ancestors may no longer be there in person but I wonder if they ever really left, as judging by the sheer number of small earth-fast tri-stones dotted about it may also be their last resting place. To be given the opportunity to once again bring the circles and stone row ‘back to life’ and in the public gaze is why we do this. Our heritage means everything and we should do everything to keep it that way!

Two of the three only remaining standing stones and the recumbent central pillar of the North Circle. The remaining stones lie buried beneath the surface

One of the many round-house remains on Leskernick Hill

A last resting place?

Roy Goutté
North Hill
Cornwall

 

The second in a new series highlighting Cornwall’s megalithic masterpieces. Part Two: The Stripple Stones… Cornwall’s premier stone circle fights back. Unless otherwise stated text and images © Roy Goutté.

Nearly three years ago now I made a very belated first visit to a very special stone circle erected at the southern base on Hawks Tor, north of the A30 dual carriageway on Cornwall’s Bodmin Moor… The Stripple Stones (SX 14374 75215).

On private land and just a stone’s throw away from the Trippet Stones, another stone circle on Manor Common, the Stripple Stones are a rare breed indeed as they are just one of a very small number of henged stone circles built in the British Isles but… in terms of visitation compared to others, almost forgotten about!

At the time it was one of the last of two circles I still had to visit on Bodmin’s extensive collection of moors, downs and commons and potentially the most exciting. Stone circles with a ditch and bank circling them (ditch to the inside of the bank) don’t grow on trees and I was very excited at the thought of seeing one just ten miles away from my home.

I made my way to the henge via the Trippet Stones and the track leading to the western side of Hawks Tor then made my way to the top where the views are spectacular. Rough Tor, Brown Willy and Garrow Tor dominate the skyline to the north and the A30 and Colliford lake to the south.

Nearing the summit of Hawks Tor

My first view of the circle, through the lens of my bridge camera, picked out what I’d been hoping and praying to see in the stone setting… a tri-shaped stone… and it was initially to make my day as I have reason to believe they meant something special to the circle builders over the expanses of Bodmin Moor, particularly those in sight of Rough Tor!

At that moment in time the only thing missing was my ever faithful Border Collie Chief who accompanies me on all of my moor walks, but because of the dangers of adder bites on the day (there had been 13 reported in the past month) I had left him at home.

Within minutes I was approaching the henge, but with every step I took my excitement was waning. I have a habit of doing very little research whenever I plan to visit a new site other than finding out how to reach it, so that I don’t have a pre-formed opinion in my mind based on someone else’s findings.

Stood before me was the mere shadow of a former iconic Cornish jewel in the crown. Just four ring stones left standing, the rest recumbent and either lost to nature or on the way to being so. Even the apparent tri-stone I had viewed from the top of Hawks Tor was not quite what I was expecting. The ditch and bank where still discernible were covered in reeds and showed the signs of being overrun by cattle, ponies and sheep over the years. The base of two of the surviving four uprights and also some of the prostrate stones were ringed by hollows filled with water where trodden on and scraped out by stock over the years, or the uprights used as rubbing stones. It was heart-breaking to see, but worse was yet to come!

Stone 8 in the foreground broken in three pieces and Stone 9 recumbent. Stone 10 in background just one of four left standing

Stone 10. Not quite the tri-stone as I was expecting

Unbelievably, in the past, a boundary wall had been built across about a quarter of the bank, ditch and ring setting in the NE sector! I stood there in disbelief that someone years ago had actually shown such disrespect for our heritage that this had been carried out and felt compelled to video all my findings and report them to Ann Preston-Jones the Heritage at Risk officer for the area. I feel exactly the same today and always will when faced with such wanton destruction of our heritage even though it had occurred long ago in the 19th century and the recumbent stones a victim of wandering stock and shallow stone sockets in peaty soil… always a recipe for disaster. This was a rare henged circle for heaven’s sake and should have been protected much more!

The stone hedge/bank cutting through the original ditch and bank with the ‘modern’ ditch between it and the remaining ring stones

I could go on but things are different now as a wrong is finally being put right and must now be the centre of attention and the very reason for this article.

Over the past few months I am delighted to report that a transformation has taken place and I would like to think that my reporting of the condition the circle was in at the time of my visit helped play a small part in that with Ann then championing the cause further by taking up the cudgels and by doing so set the wheels in motion to reverse the trend.

I first heard of the restorative work to be carried out on the site when Ann contacted me to ask if I’d like to help out with others on an initial GPS and geophysical survey in March 2015 to determine the original position of the ditch, bank and line of ring stones where destroyed by the boundary wall. You bet I would, and thank you Ann for the invite which was gratefully accepted.

To make things complete, I then learnt that CAU archaeologist James Gossip was to be on site as was Richard Mikulski who was to carry out the earth resistance survey. I’d worked with James before on a couple of clearances and he brings such professional knowledge and enthusiasm with him that he is a pleasure to work alongside. Richard I had not met so looked forward to learning more about his work and helping him out when called for. We were joined and assisted by Caroline, Tom, Henry and Graham on the day and all joined in with the surveying and clearance work which was carried out in good humour on a very cold and bleak Bodmin Moor day. Richard explained in full detail how the geo-fizz worked and all helpers were given the opportunity to experience it practically which was much appreciated.

It was here that I was also introduced to David Attwell of Attwell Associates (Environment & Heritage) himself a very pleasant and knowledgeable person that it was my pleasure to meet. It was David that was the first to fill me in on the details of the work to be undertaken:-

The Stripples Stone restorative works formed part of a Heritage and Archaeological Feature Protection Grant awarded to Adrian and Julie Mansfield as part of a Higher Level Stewardship Agreement. This is an agri-environment scheme administered by Natural England (DEFRA) and is a 10 year agreement. The landowners receive an annual payment in return for managing the land to meet specific prescriptions designed to benefit key habitats, species and features of interest. This includes archaeology and under the capital works programme (physical improvements required to meet the objectives of the scheme) there is an option entitled ‘Heritage and Archaeological Feature Protection Grant’. Prior to entering HLS the applicant has to complete a detailed survey of the holding and this identifies all the features of interest and their condition. Information is supplied via the county’s Heritage and Environment Record and the results of the fieldwork are fed into the formulation of the agreement helping to identify potential works. In this particular case the holdings contain some of the densest and most important monuments on Bodmin Moor and a HAP was developed by NE in partnership with the landowners, Historic England and Ann Reynolds of Cornwall Council. This included a number of elements ranging from repairs to boundaries, a beehive hut, medieval longhouse settlements and the Stripple Stones.

A brief was prepared by the landowners and NE and this was tendered in December 2014 and awarded to Attwell Associates (Environment & Heritage) in February 2015. The contract required a full project management role from applying for statutory consents to delivering the works on the ground. We put together a proposal which involved CAU (James Gossip and Ann Preston-Jones) as the principal archaeological contractor and a number of other individuals to assist in delivering the HAP package. Central to this were Adrian and Julie Mansfield given that the project needed to work alongside the farming business and they played a hands-on role throughout. Physical works initially focussed on Garrow but moved to the Stripple Stones in September 2015 following receipt of the SAM consent.

A meeting was held with Nick Russell (South West Assistant Inspector of Ancient Monuments) in May where the principles of the project were shared and challenged. A formal application was registered in July and approval received in late August. This allowed for the erection of up to 5 recumbent stones, erosion repairs along with the removal of a 19th century field boundary. This had been built through the monument as part of a late phase of enclosure for Higher Hawks Tor Farm. The HAP brief stipulated three stones to be erected and these were selected by the project team, guided by Ann Preston-Jones of HE.

James and Richard setting out in preparation for the survey

Following the geophysical survey and until my next invite with my small team of clearance workers from the TimeSeekers amateur archaeology group on the 1st December 2015, work commenced on the circle and the re-directing of the old boundary wall.

The initial works involved the removal of the boundary wall with the stones carefully dismantled for re-use as part of the realigned boundary. This took the hedge away from the inner circle approximately 3 metres to the east of the outer ditch edge. During the work two previously recorded stones (Lukis and Borlase) were found in situ at the base of the bank plus an additional stone within the hedge core which displayed signs of stone packing so could possibly have been an original ring stone. The two recorded stones showed signs of being split so could possibly be a former circle stone as the marks when aligned suggest they were originally a single slab.

The section of offending boundary wall during its removal and re-positioning by Adrian and Julie Mansfield with the help of David and Attwell Associates employees. Photo: David Attwell

At the same time that the wall was being removed, work began to excavate the socket of one of the three stones to be raised. This failed to establish any notable ‘finds’ (a small Mesolithic flint was found in the hedge stone socket) but once again suggested that the original sockets were very shallow given the size of the stones. The recumbent stone was moved to enable this work to progress and then carefully drawn into an upright position using strops and a nine tonne swing shovel. A layer of white sand was placed to create a distinct horizon and then granite packing stones used to trig the base before successive layers of growan (rab) and granite were set and compacted to ground level. The finished surface was slightly domed to shed water before soil and turves were laid to finish the repairs. The re-erection of the further two stones followed on using a similar methodology. All were left unprotected as a key outcome of the HLS project was to restrict grazing by fencing off the area, without the public’s view or access being denied, to primarily prevent sheep and cattle poaching the ground or applying pressure on the surviving upright ring stones.

Stone 15 prior to re-erection

Nearly there… Stone 15 arises! Photo: David Attwell

The final main work involved the re-building of the new stone hedge alignment. This re-used the original stone on the inner face against the circle whilst some newer material (extracted from foundations for new farm sheds) was built on the western face. A gap was left for a gateway on the alignment identified through the field survey which suggests a further entrance opposite the known access on the western side of the circle. This new section is 90 metres in length but in total the project repaired just over 500 metres of hedgerow which included four gateways and three sheep creeps.

I have to say, without fear of contradiction, that the planning and work carried out to this point was of the highest order and all credit must go to David and his employees, Adrian and Julie Mansfield and also to James and Ann and all those working away in the background.

Then, on 1st December, under James and David’s guidance, four of the TimeSeekers clearance group (Jacqui Rukin, Caroline Lavelle, Colin Green and myself) were then asked to help out when the time came to begin a tidy-up within the circle itself and also help to re-expose a recumbent and buried ring stone that Gray had surveyed and recorded during his 1905 excavation and survey of the site. It was a bit of a puzzle to us though as to why it had not been exposed at the time but I’m sure there were acceptable reasons given as to why not!

As it was this was an easy undertaking as the stone was only some 4” to 6” under the surface and easily detectable by the slight mound above ground being visible.

Members of the TimeSeekers clearance group after the re-exposure of the long-lost ring stone. Left to right, Colin Green, Jacqui Ruken, Roy Goutté, Caroline Lavelle. On completion James re-turfed the sides to the stone to form a sloping surface which was very pleasing to the eye. Photo: James Gossip (CAU)

Further investigation around part of the circle where the clearance of other recumbent stones was felt necessary also detected two further buried ring stones thus adding more to James’ current survey although neither were re-exposed at the time.

There is something very special about re-exposing a buried stone that you know was once part of what we possibly perceive as being a ‘ritualistic or ceremonial’ monument and once likely to have been last handled by our great ancestors some 4,500-5,000 years ago! We often refer to these stones as being ‘sacred’ and I have to admit to feeling a tingle when they first see the light of day again and always hope that they are not too deep to leave exposed once recorded. They were meant to be seen and although no longer all standing are nevertheless there for our wonderment and why we as a group find great pleasure and privilege in re-exposing them at any given opportunity.

Without a doubt the discussions, site visits, planning, decision making, approvals, consents, putting out tenders etc is a lengthy process and maybe not appreciated by those who just want to get on with things, but has nevertheless got to be done. I asked James how it was for him as the leading archaeologist on site:-

Cornwall archaeological Unit were commissioned by David Atwell Associates to carry out a programme of archaeological recording at The Stripple Stones henge monument (located on Bodmin Moor at SX14374 75215) in advance of and during conservation work The Stripple Stones is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM CO124) and consent was therefore required from Historic England to enable conservation repairs to specific elements of the monument on behalf of the landowners Adrian and Julie Mansfield. This formed part of a Historical and Archaeological Feature Protection Grant (HAP) included within a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement with Natural England.

This work involved the survey of the existing monument, to include standing and recumbent stones, an 1885 field boundary and topographic survey of a ploughed-down barrow to support geophysics results. The initial survey helped identify the location of a probable former entrance on the NE side of the monument which had been lost as a result of the improvement of agricultural land where enclosed by the nineteenth century field boundary bisecting the monument. The conservation work included erosion repair around selected stones, where stability was under threat. These were at risk of falling as a result of damage by livestock, compounded by the poorly backfilled excavations of George St Gray in 1905.

Removal of the 19th century hedge resulted in the discovery of two stones marked on the Borlase and Lukis plan of 1879 – although one had been moved as a result of splitting it is likely to have been left close to its original position. The two stones helped confirm the theory of an entrance on the north-eastern side, ‘framing’ a causeway across the ditch (now almost entirely backfilled) in alignment with the opposing entrance. The new hedge has been rebuilt outside the monument and respecting the arc of the ditch – a new gate now hangs in position leading the eye through the north-east entrance and through the entrance on the western side. The removal of the 19th century hedge and building of the new one, expertly constructed by Adrian and Julie Mansfield and David Atwell, has helped to re-establish the monument as a complete entity once more. 

Following erosion repair and stone re-erection a team of experienced Bodmin Moor volunteers (Roy Goutte, Jacqui Ruken, Caroline Lavelle, Colin Green) were invited to take part in some further enhancement works at the Stripple Stones. Most exciting of these was the de-turfing over a peculiar ‘stone-shaped lump’ on the north-west perimeter of the monument, as visible today as it was when ‘probed’ by Tregelles in 1902 and surveyed by Gray in 1905. As suspected, removal of turf revealed a long, recumbent granite stone, exposed for the first time in hundreds of years, if not millennia.

Thanks to the efforts of the Mansfield’s, David Attwell and the Bodmin Moor Team the Stripple Stones have been transformed, giving the visitor just a sense of its original glory once again.

It was wonderful to see many of the recumbent stones that had been partially covered once again being fully exposed and hope that it is something that can be carried out on a more regular basis otherwise they will be lost to nature yet again. The new boundary wall/hedge is exceptional and matches in perfectly with the existing walling and the builders are to be applauded.

Without sounding too flowery about it, these monuments have been left for us to enjoy and marvel at by our great ancestors and should be far more respected than many currently are if our future generations are to also benefit from them. In these times of financial cuts when funding for such projects are limited, it is a great opportunity for the public to ‘get involved’ and offer their services to help clean up many of our sites as we do on Bodmin Moor. It is very rewarding and at the same time a great privilege to be able to work alongside archaeologists on monuments erected thousands of years ago! Their builders may no longer be with us but that is no excuse to let things slide and we must all jointly take over the baton and share the responsibility of becoming the custodians of these wonderful structures that we are still puzzling over after all these years.

Work is still active on the Stripple Stones and will be completed in August when a new permissive access for visitors will be available to view the monument and provided by the landowners. Adrian has kindly offered to provide access to the circle even though it lies outside of the CROW Act land. This will be achieved by an access through the fence-line to the south of the Tor which separates the two compartments.

David has informed me that in discussion with the landowners, they would prefer at the moment that we promote the route via the lane off Manor Common (NNW of the Trippet Stone Circles) which then leads onto Hawks Tor Downs where there is open access. It is still currently possible to reach the Stripple Stones via two existing gateways but involves a somewhat zig-zag route.

A detailed report will be issued at the end of the project and I will notify the Heritage Trust accordingly and pen a follow-on article which will be much more descriptive in content and the reader made more aware of the circles surroundings and setting in the landscape.

In the meantime and with the promise of warmer and dryer weather just around the corner, why don’t you all get out your maps, re-dubbin the walking boots and get out there into the fresh air to see first-hand the fantastic views from the top of Hawks Tor before descending onto the West Countries only henged stone circle… the Stripple Stones. You know you want to and all of those involved with the planning, surveying and working on the project to make your enjoyment of the circle a much nicer experience would love you to make the journey. Go safely and have fun.

Roy Goutté
North Hill
Cornwall

 

Harold St. George Gray’s Surveyed Plan of the Stripple Stones 1905.

Note the walling running through the north-east section of the bank, ditch and ring stones but has now thankfully been removed and re-aligned.

 

 
Pablo Picasso, 1917-18, Portrait d’Olga dans un fauteuil (Olga in an Armchair), oil on canvas
130 x 88.8 cm, Musée Picasso, Paris, France
Image credit Agence Photographique de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux. Source Wikimedia Commons
 
BBC News Entertainment & Arts
 
Paris’s world-renowned Picasso museum is reopening after being closed for five years for renovations and expansion. The Musee Picasso houses thousands of works that were in the artist’s possession when he died in 1973, and were made over to the state by his family in lieu of taxes.
 
BBC Video here.
    

Sutton Hoo and Europe, AD 300–1100. Room 41. The Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery
Image © The Trustees of the British Museum

In 1939, archaeologist Basil Brown investigated the largest of many Anglo-Saxon burial mounds on the property of Mrs Edith Pretty in Sutton Hoo. He made one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries of all time – an undisturbed burial of an important early 7th-century East Anglian. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the excavation, come to the British Museum for a lecture on Friday 25 July where John Preston, nephew of Mrs Pretty, will relate the story behind the excavation.

The National Trust are celebrating the anniversary with a grand 1930s garden party on Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 July at the National Trust Visitor Centre at Sutton Hoo. There’ll be music, entertainment, tours of the mounds, cream teas, vintage cars, and much more!

The remarkable treasures are on display in the Museum’s newly refurbished Room 41. You can also learn more about the Sutton Hoo ship burial with a tour on Google Cultural Institute.

Source: The British Museum.

   

UNESCO assess damage to Cairo Museum of Islamic Arts
Video by Rowan El Shimi for Ahram Online

Daily News Egypt reports that –

Members of the UNESCO delegation said it was especially shocking to see the museum in its current state, but praised the quick response of the rescue team. “We were so pleased when we saw in Paris the response of the rescue team,” the delegation said. “This team of 11 people were trained for two years by the Ministry of Antiquities, UNESCO and the International Council of Museums.” Another member of the delegation added; “This museum is so important for us, and when I say ‘us’, I mean anyone who cares about culture; this is the mother of all Islamic museums. Its artefacts are important, but the building itself is equally important. Excellent work has been done here in the aftermath of the explosion, but more will be needed in this coming time. We will connect the conservation specialists in Cairo to other conservation specialists abroad so Egypt can have the best technical support and these artefacts could be seen by you, your children and visitors here in Cairo.”

UNESCO has confirmed that it is setting aside $100,000 in emergency funds to help rebuild the Museum of Islamic Arts.

Full article here.

   

 
The Sanro-den kake-zukuri Prayer Hall in Ōzu, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku Japan
 
Not many kake-zukuri buildings survived in Japan today, perhaps the most famous is the main hall of the Kiyomizu-dera (Buddhist temple) situated in the foothills of the eastern mountains of Kyoto City. Kiyomizu-dera sits on the edge of a steep, thirteen metre slope, and is supported by wooden pillars. As with most temples, shrines and pagodas in Japan no nails were used in its construction, resulting in structures that are flexible and therefore more likely to survive an earthquake.
 
The World Monuments Fund reports recently that –
 
Within the compound of the Shinto shrine to Sukunahikona in Ōzu, on the island of Shikoku, lies the sanro-den or private prayer hall. Sukunahikona was an important dwarf deity, associated with the creation of Japan and many human arts, including the art of medicine. The sanro-den was constructed in 1934 in the sacred precinct, following the traditional kake-zukuri, or overhang, style, supported on scaffolding over a steep slope. It is one of few twentieth-century kake-zukuri buildings in Japan, with all but a tenth of the structure dramatically suspended on a frame of long and slender timber posts. The interior consists of a single large room, glazed on all sides, which was used for many decades for religious ceremonies and community gatherings.
 
After the shrine closed, following a gradual decline in the community of followers of Sukunahikona, citizens of Ōzu formed a volunteer group with the aim of preserving and maintaining the historic monuments. But the sanro-den is in a poor condition—until recently, water used to leak into the interior of the structure—and an expert committee has been formed to oversee its restoration and repairs. In addition to repairs to the roof and walls, some of the supporting posts are exhibiting signs of rotting and will need to be replaced. The successful restoration of the sanro-den will expand knowledge of kake-zukuri architecture, both ancient and modern, and will allow this special place to become a venue for community gatherings once again. Advocates are hopeful that the restoration will engage the nearby community to maintain the site on a regular basis, and will provide the impetus for the rest of the monuments of the compound to be restored.
 
More here.
  
 
Murals by pre-Raphaelite artists recently discovered at the Red House in south-east London
Image credit Linda Nylind
 
Writing in The Guardian last month Maev Kennedy reports that –
 
It began as an attempt to restore one blurry image that had been hidden for a century behind a large built-in wardrobe on William Morris’s bedroom wall. Months later, the painstaking removal of layers of paint and wallpaper revealed that an entire wall at the artist and craftsman’s first married home was painted by his young friends who would become world-famous pre-Raphaelite artists.
 
The near-lifesize figures on the wall at the Red House, now buried in south-east London suburbia at Bexleyheath, are now believed to represent the joint work of Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his wife Elizabeth Siddal, Ford Madox Brown and Morris.
 
Full article here.
 
 

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

The Rijksmuseum

Mark Savage writing for BBC News Entertainment & Arts reports that –

When Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands officially reopens the Rijksmuseum [this] week, it will mark the end of a painful restoration project. The work ran five years over schedule and millions of euros over budget. The Dutch state museum has been closed since 2003. Renovation was delayed by flooding, asbestos and a dispute over access for cyclists. “It was kind of Murphy’s Law,” says museum director Wim Pijbes. “What could go wrong did go wrong.”

On Wednesday, Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid was rehung, making it the last major work to return to the museum in the heart of Amsterdam. The old masters draw the eye, but so do the intricately decorated ceilings and pillars that frame them – all painstakingly recreated after being painted over in the post-war years. In the halls flanking the grand gallery, the decoration is more modern. British artist Richard Wright, a former Turner Prize winner, has dusted the ceilings with almost 50,000 stars, hand-painted in a swirling, shifting constellation. It all serves to set up the Rijksmuseum’s biggest star – Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

The museum is newly illuminated by 3,800 individual LED lights, which lack the paint-destroying heat and UV rays of incandescent bulbs. They were installed by Dutch lighting specialists Philips, who also claim the LEDs enhance the viewing experience. “Incandescent lights focus on ambers and reds,” says the company’s chief design officer, Rogier van der Heide. “The LED adds a beautiful return of the blues and greens. The cooler colours are clearer… So we get to see the full beauty of the colour spectrum.”

Full article here. See also our Kyoto National Museum under renovation feature.

 

The scheduled ancient monument and Grade I listed 15th century Harmondsworth Barn © PA

The Daily Mail reports today that –

A medieval barn described by the poet John Betjeman as the ‘cathedral of Middlesex’ has been rescued from decay and neglect for the nation, English Heritage said today.

Grade I-listed Harmondsworth Barn in west London joins the likes of Stonehenge, Osborne House and parts of Hadrian’s Wall in the national collection of historic sites and monuments under the guardianship of English Heritage. Built by Winchester College in 1426, the barn would have been used to store grain from the surrounding manor, owned by the Bishop of Winchester, with profits from the produce used to pay for the school. While it has had some repairs over the years, most recently by English Heritage to make it weather-proof and keep out pigeons, the structure is largely as it was built, with the timber and stones still bearing original carpenter and mason marks.

The oak-framed barn, which the heritage agency said ranks alongside the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace for its historic value, was used up until the 1970s but fell into disrepair in the ownership of an offshore company which had bought it in 2006. It is thought the purchase was a speculative one, as the barn stands just metres from where Heathrow’s third runway – had it gone ahead – would have been built. In 2009, English Heritage became concerned about the barn’s deteriorating condition and issued an urgent works notice for emergency repairs to keep it water and wind-tight. A dispute over payment for the emergency works led to English Heritage buying the barn for £20,000.

Full article here. See also The Guardian feature here.

 

 
  
Barefoot at the Barge
Designed by Mathewson Waters Architects and built by the award winning Green Oak Carpentry Company 
 
Visitors to the Avebury World Heritage Site this year may be able to take advantage of the new arts venue at the Barge Inn, Honeystreet, Alton Barnes.
 
2012 will mark another milestone in the pub’s 200 year history. Honeystreet Ales are undertaking a major transformation of the old barn site, constructing a beautiful new visual and performing arts space, ‘The Barefoot’, right next to the Barge Inn. Designed by Mathewson Waters Architects and built by the award winning Green Oak Carpentry Company, construction starts in March. The £250,000 project, funded by Honeystreet Ales, will provide an exciting and inspirational new arts space.
  
The Barge Inn. Image credit Willow
 
The Barge Inn is situated alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal and within walking distance of the Anglo-Saxon church at Alton Barnes and the Norman church (with its ancient yew tree and other pagan associations) at Alton Priors. Avebury, Silbury and West Kennet Long Barrow are some 15 minutes drive away.
 
 

The original 1897 French Baroque-style building of the Kyoto National Museum
©
Littlestone

The Kyoto National Museum (京都国立博物館) complex comprises the original French Baroque-style building, as well as the Western Gate, the south and the west walls (all constructed in 1897 using brick imported from Britain) and the later 1966 Collections Hall; the latter is presently undergoing renovation and will be closed until 2014. During renovation, the Baroque-style part of the Museum will be the only part open, and this only for special exhibitions held there three or four times a year. Once renovations to the Collections Hall are complete it will again exhibit Chinese and Japanese archaeological objects, lacquer ware, metalwork, textiles, paintings and sculpture, many of which belong, or belonged, to the Imperial Household Agency, Kyoto’s many temples as well as numerous private collections.

More here.

 

The Plasauduon

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales blog features a stunning architectural 3D fly through animation of the 17th century Plasauduon –

The Plasauduon is typical of the seventeenth-century ‘Severn Valley’ type — symmetrical timber-framed houses distinguished by impressive, central, storeyed porches opening into a lobby at the side of the central fireplace. This form creates two balanced rooms to the ground and first floor; in this case the hall on the right and parlour on the left, and there are bedchambers over. Built around 1660, with a later rear wing that is possibly a rebuild of an earlier structure, Plasauduon is remarkably well preserved.

More here.

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