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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 1 of 3 reports). Text and images © Roy Goutté.

Leskernick South Stone Circle
SX 18817969
 
Discovered in 1973 by M Fletcher of the O.S. Archaeology Division, Leskernick South Stone Circle lies on slightly rising open moorland within a landscape of outstanding natural beauty some 400 metres to the south-east of the base of Leskernick Hill on the eastern perimeter of Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. It is one of two known circles within 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. The hill has a variable appearance that depends on the vantage point from which it is seen, rather like its close neighbour, Rough Tor.
 
From the very moment we arrived at Leskernick we felt we were in a special place – a place of wonder and great importance. It is enclosed by a series of hills, ridges and tors in all directions and just shouts out that importance. The landscape is breathtaking. To stand on the top of Leskernick Hill you can’t help but feel that you are in the centre of a world that was once a Kingdom – an enclosed world – with only a hint or speculation of a possible world beyond. The Beacon, Tolborough Tor, Catshole Tor, Brown Willy, Rough Tor, Showery Tor, High Moor, Buttern Hill, Bray Down, and Carne Down all lock you in – and beyond in the distance, Brown Gelly.
 
Before we even commenced our work there we had a feeling that whatever we were to find during our excavations, there would be far, far, more lying hidden than what was already known about or still present – which even then is surly just part of a much greater story! Of great surprise to us was to discover that Leskernick Hill with its Bronze-Age settlement, combined with the two stone circles, the stone row, the nearby large cairn, or in fact anything connected with the whole complex, were not scheduled. To be honest it was more shock than surprise, so before we even commenced our work, I had decided to apply for scheduling on its completion. We all felt it was the least we could do to help protect and preserve our heritage.
 
For the full report click here (PDF).
 

Text and images © Roy Goutté.

Within the southern end of Leskernick South Stone Circle after its clearance
 
The South Circle
 
I am pleased to be able to deliver a short Interim Field Report on the progress the TimeSeekers clearance group are making at the Leskernick stone circles and stone row on Bodmin Moor.
 
We commenced our work on the 6th June and over a three day period had all but completed our work on the South Circle.
Sixteen recumbent ring stones were evident – most only just – on commencement but we were to discover four further buried complete ones. Sadly, six further ring stones had been removed after being broken up with just their remains left where they had once fallen. Consistent gaps between the ring stones had enabled us to detect their remains under the surface exactly where they would have been positioned. Just two ring stones were earth-fast.
 
The northern end of the circle has a wide empty stone gap with no evidence found of their demise or previous existence, but there is an unusual longish low mound running parallel to the inner arc of the circle at this point which would benefit from further professional investigation.
 
Exactly in the centre of the circle was a stone about 6 inches in diameter just poking out of the turf. On further inspection it proved to be set into the peat about 6 inches and beneath it the broken remains of a likely recumbent central upright was evident.
 
Although we only exposed a small section of each of the broken and removed stones, the remains of them all were patently obvious beneath the surface and their fall direction easily detected by the spiking of the ground – see photos.
 
We made other discoveries and one in particular cannot be revealed at this time but will of course be included in the completed Survey and Field Report.
 

 

The above photo of the southern end of the South Circle taken in April 2016

The North Circle.
 
Prior to commencement there were just three earth-fast ring stones remaining above ground and the whaleback centre stone lying recumbent. Just a handful of other ring stones could just be seen through the turf.
 
We commenced work here on the 20th June and by the end of the first day we had exposed all of the remaining ring stones and the obvious remains of removed stones after being broken up. I am pleased to announce that this was once a complete circle of 21 original ring stones with no apparent ‘gaps’ or entrances.
 
Without going into the full details at this moment or possible reasons why, it soon became obvious that the standing stones in this circle were much smaller than those in the South Circle.
 

The North Circle prior to excavation
 
 A few of the reclaimed ring stones on exposure
 
 
l6 (2)
l7 (2)
 
 
Daesh vandals destroying part of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud
 
Martin Bailey, writing in the The Art Newspaper, reports that –
 
The British Museum is to set up a training scheme for Iraqi archaeologists to tackle the aftermath of Isil destruction. A museum spokeswoman said the programme, which has been awarded a £3m grant from the UK government, would help Iraq to document the damage and start the process of reconstruction and preservation.
 
Full article here. See also our earlier feature here.
    
 
 
A Saxon church in the village of Archita, Transylvania, before its ‘restoration’
Image credit and © DW/W. Blacker
 
Luke Dale-Harris reports from Sibiu, Transylvania, that churches, some at least 800 years old, are being “brutally revamped” using European Union funds. Original features have been stripped in restoration projects mired in conflicts of interest –
 
Standing to face a room full of angry conservationists, the Romanian Evangelical Church lawyer Friedrich Gunesch looks red faced and shaken. Over the last four hours he has faced accusations of corruption, ineptitude and the deliberate destruction of historical monuments, as restoration specialists and investigative journalists put forward evidence against his office. They are all trying to establish the same thing: How did an EU funded, multi-million euro restoration project end up wrecking many of Romania’s most treasured churches?
 
More here.
 
 
Before and after images of Durbar Square, Kathmandu, Nepal
Image credit Solêtti
 
UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, has –
 
…expressed her profound sympathy to the government and people of Nepal after the devastating earthquake that struck the country. “I wish to express my sincere condolences following the powerful earthquake that struck Nepal today, causing heavy loss of life and extensive damage, including to historic monuments and buildings of the Kathmandu Valley.
 
UNESCO stands ready to help Nepal reconstruct and strengthen its resilience, based on our strong partnership and shared conviction in the power of education, science and culture to empower people, to heal and restore confidence.” she added
 
More here.
 
The Heritage Trust also expresses its profound sympathy and sadness to the government and people of Nepal and hopes that when the human tragedy has been addressed attention will then turn to protecting and restoring Nepal’s tangible and unique cultural heritage.
 
 
 
 
The Pyramid of Cestius by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (18th century)
Source Wikimedia Commons
 
The Wikipedia entry for the Pyramid of Cestius (or Rome Pyramid) reads –
 
The pyramid was built about 18 BCE–12 BCE as a tomb for Gaius Cestius, a magistrate and member of one of the four great religious corporations in Rome, the Septemviri Epulonum. It is of brick-faced concrete covered with slabs of white marble standing on a travertine foundation, measuring 100 Roman feet (29.6 m) square at the base and standing 125 Roman feet (37 m) high.
 
In the interior is the burial chamber, a simple barrel-vaulted rectangular cavity measuring 5.95 metres long, 4.10 m wide and 4.80 m high. When it was (re)discovered in 1660, the chamber was found to be decorated with frescoes, which were recorded by Pietro Santi Bartoli, but only the scantest traces of these now remain. There was no trace left of any other contents in the tomb, which had been plundered in antiquity. The tomb had been sealed when it was built, with no exterior entrance; it is not possible for visitors to access the interior, except by special permission typically only granted to scholars.
 
Now, thanks to Japanese fashion mogul Yuzo Yagi (OBE) who funded a restoration project for the pyramid, the structure has been returned to something of its former glory. The project was led by Italy’s archaeological directors Rita Paris and Maria Grazia Filetici.
 
 
The Pyramid of Cestius after restoration
Image credit ANSAmed
 
Read more here.
    

The Sanro-den kake-zukuri Prayer Hall before restoration

At the end of 2013 we reported on the World Monuments Fund’s project to save and restore the Sanro-den kake-zukuri Prayer Hall in Ōzu, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku Japan (see our feature Appeal for the restoration of the Sanro-den launched). The restoration project is now almost complete and, as today marks World Heritage Day and ICOMOS’ 50th anniversary, we’re happy to highlight that, with help from the World Monuments Fund, a celebration recently took place to mark the near-completion of the Sanro-den restoration project. The Sanro-den was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch because of its deteriorated condition and its potential for community involvement. Structural work on the Sanro-den is now finished. “The remaining work includes public paths and a final codification of plans for site management and usage. Completion is scheduled for June 2015.”

The Sanro-den after restoration

More here.

   

TWYFORD HALL HISTORY

The building was constructed in 1853 as a Wesleyan Chapel and served as such until the end of WWI. During the turn of the century there was already a Twyford Men’s Club located in Twyford and when the Vicar Rev. R.W.H. Acworth arrived at the church in 1903, he had considerable impact on the club and as Club President he was instrumental in moving the club into the Weslyan Chapel. At this time the chapel had been empty for a few years when it was deserted by the Wesleyan congregation who had moved to Reading on the death of a previous vicar. As a result the Rev. Acworth bought the chapel, and rented it to the Men’s Club at the princely sum of £1 per month. The hall accommodated a full size billiard table, and a reading room which was provided with daily newspapers, and periodicals. Tea, coffee and other non-alcoholic drinks were available for a small charge. The hall was open six evenings a week from 7pm to 10pm and three times per week gymnastic exercise classes were held.

With the outbreak of WWI the men of Twyford were quick to respond to the call to arms. During the war 276 men enlisted from a total population of 1,200 (men women and children.) according to the 1911 census. Of these 34 young men made the ultimate sacrifice. One of the volunteers became known as the Ace of Twyford due to his record of 16 aerial victories being awarded the DFC and Bar. Another was lost presumed dead on a submarine; an unusual occurrence in those days.

In 1919 the Vicar Rev. Acworth was again active in supporting the men of Twyford by bequeathing the Chapel to the Men of Twyford in recognition of their contribution to the war effort.

THE HALL STILL RETAINS A COMMEMORATIVE TABLET LISTING EVERY NAME OF THOSE WHO SERVED KING AND COUNTRY

Since 1919 the building has served as a club dedicated to playing billiards and snooker and other social activities continued as before. Currently the club is rather unique in that members pay an annual fee which entitles them to their own key so that they have access 24/7. In addition it is now open to male and female members and is available to hire by local societies such as drama and musical groups for rehearsals and practice.

Graham C. Cook M.Sc. Trustee.

In the year 2019 we intend to celebrate the 100 years, since it was bequeathed, by having the hall rededicated by the local vicar and also re-named The Twyford Memorial Hall. This name would reflect the memorial contents of the hall; ie the commemorative tablet mentioned above plus an engraved porcelain tile which expresses thanks to God for the service by the men of Twyford.

If you are able to help with the refurbishment and rededication of The Twyford Memorial Hall please contact us at –

support@helpourhall.co.uk  www.helpourhall.co.uk

www.facebook.com/twyfordsnookerhall Twitter: @helpourhall

Or graham.cook125@btinternet.com Tel: 0118 969 1668 Mob: 07785738034

 

 
40,000 year-old mammoth ivory figurine of a lion (right) and missing fragment (left)
Image credit: Hilde Jensen, Universität Tübingen
 
Phys.org reports last month that –
 
Archaeologists from the University of Tübingen have found an ancient fragment of ivory belonging to a 40,000 year-old animal figurine. Both pieces were found in the Vogelherd Cave in south-western Germany, which has yielded a number of remarkable works of art dating to the Ice Age. The mammoth ivory figurine depicting a lion was discovered during excavations in 1931. The new fragment makes up one side of the figurine’s head…
 
The 40,000 year-old figurine is one of the most famous works of Ice Age art. It was on show at last year’s Ice Age art exhibition hosted by the British Museum. According to archaeologist Nicholas Conard of Tübingen University’s Institute of Prehistory and Medieval Archaeology, and the Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment Tübingen, the lion was originally thought to be a relief and was unique for this period. With the small fragment of one side of the lion’s head now reattached however it is clear that the figurine is, in fact, a three-dimensional sculpture. “The site has yielded a wealth of objects that illuminate the development of early symbolic artefacts dating to the period when modern humans arrived in Europe and displaced the indigenous Neanderthals,” says Conard, including evidence of the world’s earliest figurative art and music.
 
The lion figurine is now on show at the Tübingen University Museum.
 
Full Phys.org article here. See also our earlier How to make a thaumatrope… feature.
    

The final phase (placing the capstone) in the restoration of the Giant’s Quoit in Cornwall will take place on Saturday, 21 June (the summer solstice). Details above, and congratulations to all involved in bringing this project to completion!

 

 
 
Mural of the Asuka Beauties painted on the west wall of the stone chamber in the Takamatsuzuka Burial Mound (kofun) in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, Japan
Photo taken in August 2013 after the mural had been cleaned
Image credit the Japan Agency for Cultural Affairs
 
Kazuto Tsukamoto, Staff Writer for The Asahi Shimbun, reports that –
 
Stunning murals painted 1,300 years ago in the stone chamber of the Takamatsuzuka burial mound, currently under repair, will continue to be preserved in an outside facility. The government panel that made the decision March 27 said the colorful wall paintings can stay “for the time being” outside the stone chamber even after the decade-long repair process winds up. A key reason for this is the lack of established technology to prevent mold from re-emerging and destroying what is left of the paintings.
 
The murals created a huge buzz when they were discovered in 1972 at the burial mound in Asuka, Nara Prefecture. “Given existing technologies, it would be difficult to return the mural paintings to the burial mound, although we will continue our research for doing so,” said Yorikuni Nagai, an adjunct professor of education policy with the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, who chairs the 17-member panel, which reports to the Agency for Cultural Affairs. “We will have to build a solid preservation facility if the process is going to take 20 to 30 years to complete.”
 
The Agency for Cultural Affairs initially envisaged returning the mural paintings to the Takamatsuzuka burial mound once the repair work was finished. The panel’s decision represents a departure from established policy, which is based on the notion that archaeological finds should in principle be conserved on site. “It would be appropriate to preserve, maintain and display the mural paintings at an appropriate location outside the burial mound for the time being,” said part of a draft plan the agency presented to the panel, which subsequently approved it.
 
The Takamatsuzuka paintings, designated a national treasure, include the famous “Asuka beauties,” or a group of female figures originally found on the west wall of the stone chamber. The entire stone chamber was removed in 2007 from the tumulus, which dates from the late seventh or the early eighth century and is designated a special historic site by the government. A similar decision had earlier been reached on colorful mural paintings from the Kitora burial mound,  another government-designated special historic site in Asuka. They are being preserved outside the tumulus, which also dates from the late seventh or the early eighth century.
 
While preferable to preserve artefacts, works of art etc in their original context it’s surely impossible (and probably undesirable) in this case. Since their discovery forty years ago the Takamatsuzuka murals now show signs of degradation and, given their delicate nature, perhaps should have been moved to a controlled environment from the beginning. Even the poor quality press cutting below shows loss of facial (and other detail/degradation) in the paintings since the 1970s.
 
 
Press cutting from the 17 March 1972. Compare with the more recent Agency for Cultural Affairs photograph above (top)
 
Original article here. See also our feature on Asuka here.
 

  

Knill’s Monument, St. Ives, Cornwall

High on a hill overlooking the British coastal town of St. Ives, Cornwall stands Knill’s Monument, a 50-foot-high granite obelisk steeped in local tradition dating back over two centuries. The imposing structure was the final work of the architect John Wood the Younger, and was built in 1782 as a mausoleum for and memorial to the mayor of St. Ives, John Knill (1733–1811). Exposed to the harsh coastal elements, Knill’s Monument suffered notable deterioration over the years, its ailing condition marked by missing and damaged pointing, vegetation growing on the structure, and the poor state of the original commemorative shield. This brief video produced by World Monuments Fund Britain highlights its restoration.

More from the World Monuments Fund here.

   

 
 
Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo. Image credit Wikimedia Commons
 
Nevine El-Aref, writing for Ahram Online this morning, reports that –
 
The façade of the Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo in central Cairo has been completely destroyed by a powerful car bomb that exploded outside the adjacent Cairo Security Directorate early on Friday morning. The blast of the bomb also destroyed the façade of the nearby Egyptian National Library and Archives building.
 
Ministry employees are working hard to secure the museum’s contents and to ensure that any damaged artefacts are removed for restoration. “Once we evacuate the whole museum, the building is to be subjected to restoration,” said Ibrahim. He described the incident as a “great loss” for Egypt and the world. The Museum of Islamic Art is home to an exceptional collection of rare woodwork and plaster artefacts, as well as metal, ceramic, glass, crystal, and textiles objects of all Islamic periods from all over the world. The museum is a two-storey building; the lower floor contains the exhibition halls displaying 2,500 artefacts in 25 galleries. The second floor and the basement are used for storage.
 
Full article here.
   
 
Image credit the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities
 
BBC News Middle East reports that –
 
Archaeologists have discovered the tomb of a brewer who served an ancient Egyptian court more than 3,000 years ago in Luxor. The man buried in it was “head of beer production”, archaeologists say. A Japanese team found the tomb during work on another tomb belonging to a top official under Pharaoh Amenhotep III, who died around 1,354 BC.
 
Luxor is home to a large and famous temple complex built by Amenhotep III and later by Rameses II. Experts say the tomb’s wall paintings are well preserved and depict daily life as well as religious rituals.
 
More here.
   
 
There will be a talk by lead archaeologist Jacky Nowkoski at Helston Folk Museum, Cornwall on Thursday, 19 December from 1pm. The talk will compliment an exhibition on Carwynnen Quoit at the Museum which will run from 16 – 20 December.
 
Pip Richard’s (of The Sustainable Trust) newsletter and attached posters are as follows –
 
At Samhain we restored the first stone at Carwynnen Quoit on the old Pendarves Estate. After 10 days of archaeological investigations in the field, the socket was uncovered and stone no 4 was put up.
 
 
We would have liked to lift it by manpower, but the weather and the uncertain state of the newly excavated socket dictated that we needed to plan for mechanical means. The newly standing orthostat is a statement that we now have the funding to complete the project, and we were pleased to see a sizeable audience on what was otherwise a dreary and muddy day. A newly formed team of Engineer, contractor, machine operator and field archaeologist worked efficiently and swiftly together, and the new standing stone received a blessing and anointment with Cornish cider by Andy Norfolk.
 
During the dig some large stones were investigated, showing the promise of manmade markings. More Neolithic pottery and flints were discovered on this historic site.
 
Pip Richards
www.sustrust.co.uk  www.giantsquoit.org
See The Sustainable Trust or Carwynnen Quoit on Facebook.
 
 

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