New discoveries at St Martin-in-the-Fields
By Emily Burton,MoLAS Senior Archaeologist, Member of St Martin ’s Project Team
A project at St Martin-in-the-Fields church to provide new facilities for the congregation has allowed archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology Service (MoLAS) an opportunity to investigate its past. Its recent excavations offered a glimpse at late Roman origins: a Roman limestone sarcophagus and a Roman tile kiln last fired between AD 400–450, suggests a significant Roman presence at the site well outside the previously established boundaries of London ’s Roman city walls. High status Saxon burials and grave goods from a 7th-century cemetery have confirmed a long-suspected Saxon presence at the site.
The area lies within the 7th–9th-century Saxon town and trading centre of Lundenwic suggesting that the church may have had Saxon origins, possibly built over or associated with a 7th century Saxon cemetery. Roman activity on the site was not previously suspected
Little is known of the layout of the medieval church. It was substantially rebuilt in 1543–4 and again in 1606–9. The remains of a Tudor cellar wall and part of a floor, from one of the small tenement buildings shown on historic maps of the 16th century onwards were recovered confirming pictorial evidence which suggested that the Tudor church was on a different alignment to the present church
Following earlier preliminary investigations from 2001 onwards, the £36 million project to facilitate modern use of the 18th-century church of St Martin-in-the-Fields and its 19th-century burial vaults began in 2005 with the first of several phases of excavation by MoLAS (the final phase is still ongoing). This has provided a unique opportunity to investigate a site with a documented history dating back to 1222 and archaeological evidence of activity for several centuries before.
Finds from recent work are on display at the Museum of London until August 2007.
By Kate Fielden, Rescue and Stonehenge Alliance
English Heritage’s Appeal against refusal of planning permission for its Stonehenge visitor centre has been allowed and planning permission granted by the Secretary of State, subject to 58 conditions and a Section 106 Agreement between Salisbury District Council and the applicant.
However among the planning conditions set for construction of the visitor centre, two are highly significant and both relate, ultimately, to finance.
Implementation of the visitor-centre scheme remains firmly linked to the A303 Published Scheme onsidered at Public Inquiry in 2004 and recommended for approval by the Inspector. This till awaits a decision by the Secretary of State for Transport, who announced an A303 Options Review in January 2006 (see RN 98 and RN 99). The outcome of which is still awaited. It is possibile, apart from the Published Scheme or doing nothing, if any other option were chosen, Public Inquiry would be needed to consider new road Orders.
Also The National Trust, who own the land over which the contentious land-trains would run, may not support the scheme unless a road tunnel of at least 2.9km in length or a less damaging A303 alternative were implemented A 2.9km tunnel was not included in the Options Review.
One hope is that the expense of implementing the officially set out Stonehenge Project will be considered too great, particularly in view of the extraordinary financial demands of the 2012 Olympics. To implement a road scheme that is not a priority on highways grounds, at enormous cost both in financial terms and in damage to a WHS, would now seem irresponsible.
The only satisfactory way to resolve the present confrontations over Stonehenge , an undignified battle amongst the conservation bodies concerned, is to move forward from a position we can all agree with. An interim solution involving closure of the A344 and some improvement to the present visitor facilities would be an acceptable start which would ensure, at relatively little cost, an enhanced experience of Stonehenge for all visitors, including those who may come during the short period of the 2012 Olympics.
Historic Environment Champions
By Adina Gleeson, Policy Adviser (Local Government) English Heritage
Local authority Historic Environment Champions is an EH initiative that aims to tackle leadership for the heritage sector at a local level. Over half of Authorities have now asked an elected Member to undertake this vital role.
By April 2007, 60% of Local Authorities had a Historic Environment Champion, as well as four National Parks and the Greater London Authority. Following the recent local elections, numbers have dropped to 51%, but new appointments are now being made with the aim of achieving 75% coverage by April 2008. The role of Historic Environment Champion requires a number of different skills and attributes to ensure strong leadership.
English Heritage is working with both Government and Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) to support Historic Environment Champions so they can keep up-to-date, develop skills, share ideas and build partnerships.
Later this year, Historic Environment Champions will also receive training on design issues alongside CABE Design Champions. This training will be based on the successful Building in Context toolkit, a programme developed jointly by EH and CABE to help deliver better design solutions in historic areas.
Champions have been involved in a wide range of activities and projects, which have enabled their local authority to make much better use of the historic environment resources at their disposal. In the future, EH will continue to develop the Historic Environment Champions role, to attract and support high quality leaders and ensure they can make a difference.
T o find out more about the HEC programme, read the latest publications or see if your local authority has a Champion, visit the HELM website (www.helm.org.uk) or email email@example.com.
Measure twice, cut once
By James Stevens, Research and Policy Officer, English Heritage
The suddenly heightened concern over climate change following the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this year has provoked a flurry of activity over recent months, not least in the heritage sector.
English Heritage is planning to inaugurate a wide ranging multidisciplinary dialogue which places the study of the historic environment squarely at the centre of an exploration of what we can learn from history. It aims to encourage a constructive debate with others in the planning, building, research and development sectors to help us make the transition back to a low-carbon economy, and ease the difficulties of dealing with the results of climate change. Putting specialist knowledge, experience and expertise at the service of planners, government, and industry, and encouraging them to explore how people, societies and buildings functioned in the past.
Heritage management in FYR Macedonia
By Tony Howe, RESCUE Council, Archaeological Development Control Officer
Surrey County Council
Modern day Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is an historically recent creation, largely defined after the first Balkan War against Ottoman Turkey in 1912, At the end of the Second World War Macedonia was recognised as a sovereign republic within the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia, and with its break-up managed to peacefully negotiate independence in 1991, The nation state of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was officially recognised as a European Union Candidate State in 2005.
As part of its preparations for eventual membership of the EU, the Macedonian Government has recently signed, but not yet ratified, the Valletta European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage. A conference was held at the British Council in the Macedonian capital Skopje to discuss issues arising from the convention,. With funding arranged through the British Embassy, Invited participant from Britain outlined their area of work, followed by discussion in a series of workshops.
The conference is part of a longer-term project initially centred around the Roman city of Scupi to investigate the city further through a programme of fieldwork, provide an archaeological database which can be used in the management and further research of the city. The systems establshied will be eventually rolled out across the country, creating a more modern SMR database for Macedonia . Also the project will provide training and development for local archaeologists and heritage professionals to become i self-sustaining. MACAR is also about to translate of RESCUE’s own First Aid for Finds into Macedonian.
Rogue diggers rob ancient sites
Summary of an article by Teresa Albor, Director of Communications US Agency for International Development circulated by The Associated Press in April, 2007
Since Macedonia gained independence 16 years ago its ancient heritage has become increasingly vulnerable to looters using sophisticated navigation and excavating equipment, with little to stop them. A third of the country’s work force is jobless, and the government has only one dedicated official to tackle the rampant illegal antiquities trade.
Fees offered by corrupt art collectors encourage illegal excavations which are impossible to stop, Macedonian bronze can fetch very high prices on the black market
Afghan archaeology: the current situation
Summary of Dr Alison L Gascoigne’s talk at the RESCUE open meeting, text and illustrations to be reproduced elsewhere on this site in due course
Further information from
Afghanaid (currently running a special or_appeal.phtml
Finds Research Group AD 700–1700 meet in Cork
by Jackie Keily, Curator, Department of Early London History and Collections Museum of London
archaeologists, finds researchers, museum workers and interested parties (most of whom had travelled from the UK) gathered in Cork in the very south of Ireland for a three-day meeting of the FRG AD700–1700 in May including visits to Cork Public Museum, to view Viking and medieval material from the many excavations undertaken over the last 25 years. Then the Archaeology Department at University College Cork , and the Waterford Treasures Museum
Searching for Treasure: PAS monitoring of eBay
by Michael Lewis,Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, British Museum
Describes the results of monitoring or eBay following the Memorandum of Understanding with eBay reported in Rescue News 101
Letter from: Bob Sydes, North Yorkshire County Council Environment & Heritage Manager Neil Redfern. English Heritage Team Leader, North Yorkshire and Dr Mike Heyworth, Council for British Archaeology Director
Response to the comments byMark Horton, on Thornborough Henges in Rescue News 101
Letter from: Steve Timms, MGA Ltd Archaeological Consultancy Consultants for Tarmac on the Ladybridge application and Rob Moore, Estates Manager, Tarmac Ltd
Response to the comments byMark Horton, on Thornborough Henges in Rescue News 101
Response from: Dr Mark Horton, Reader in Archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol
To the letters above
Letter From: Paula Griffiths, Head of Division, Cathedral and Church Buildings Division, Church of England, Church House, Great Smith Street , London SW1P 3NZ
Responding to `St George’s church, Southwark; what price our heritage? by Bruce Watson, in Rescue News 100 and the letter from Taryn Nixon, Managing Director of MoLAS member of the Museum of London Archaeology Service staff) in Rescue News 101 clarifying that neither the Church of England’s national offices nor any of its representatives at any level had been directly approached and setting out their position.
Job cuts at MoLAS
Statement from MoL Prospect Branch
In February, executive managers at the Museum, advised by business consultants with no previous experience of archaeology, proposed cutting up to 17 posts, 11 specialists and 6 managers. Some of the threatened staff have worked for MoLAS for over 20 years. This threat of major job cuts at the Museum of London ’s Archaeology Service has now been reduced, but 6 staff still face redundancy.
The specialists at risk were experts in post-Roman pottery and finds, building material, animal bone, and botany. Executive managers said that there was a ‘decrease in demand’ or ‘demand does not exist’ for their work. Meanwhile, almost the entire management team were effectively obliged to reapply for their jobs in a new management structure.
The MoLAS website says that specialists ‘are at the forefront of current research in their fields and command international reputations’ and ‘offer a comprehensive range of services that combine reliability and cost-effectiveness with academic excellence.’ The management team has worked on hundreds of projects in London , including the proposed Olympics sites, and further afield. The work of specialists and management has helped make MoLAS one of the leading archaeological units in the country and one of the foremost archaeological publishers in Europe . The union argues that the loss of their skills would damage not only MoLAS, but British archaeology and heritage too.
Prospect union’s MoL branch campaign against the cuts included producing leaflets, lobbying the Museum governors and organising a petition. Antony Francis, the Branch Chair, said that the response from the heritage community has been overwhelming. ‘Hundreds of people have called for the job cuts to be stopped – including individuals from English Heritage, the Institute of Field Archaeologists, national and local museums, archaeology societies and universities, both in the UK and abroad.’.
MoLAS’s booming work programme removed the threat of redundancy from the post-Roman pottery and finds and the botany specialists. The union is still in negotiations with executive managers to reduce the number of potential redundancies down from the current 6 and it is hoped that there will be no need for any compulsory job cuts.
The situation at MoLAS has implications beyond this archaeological unit. The APPAG report The current state of archaeology in the United Kingdom, first report of the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group, Society of Antiquaries, London, 2003, p14, highlighted the ‘serious skills shortage in expertise in archaeological artefacts’. Since the report was published this situation has not improved. MoLAS is one of the few remaining UK archaeological units with an in-house team of specialists and if archaeological units continue to cut back, such skills will be lost for good. The Portable Antiquities Scheme is the most visible example of why such skills are crucial. An increasingly urgent question is: where will the next generation of finds specialists come from?
The situation also highlights the problem with the way UK archaeology is currently organised . Competitive tendering shifts the focus for archaeologists away from understanding the past and towards making a profit. In a cut-throat market, fear of losing out to a competitor forces archaeological units to slash costs, resulting in the sort of cutbacks seen at MoLAS.
A dapting archaeology: foresight for climate change in the UK
A CBA national one-day conference is to be held on 10 July 2007 at the British Academy , London on the likely effects of climate change on the historic environment and how archaeology and conservation need to adapt to meet the challenge.
A detailed programme is available for flyer, downloadable PDF, and booking form see www.britarch.ac.uk/conserve/conference.html, Email firstname.lastname@example.org contact: Sue Morecroft, Council for British Archaeology, St Mary’s House, 66 Bootham, York YO30 7BZ Tel: 01904 671417 Fax: 01904 671384
Annual General Meeting and Open Meeting
RESCUE AGM and Open Meeting for 2006–07 was held on 14th April 2007 at the Institute of Archaeology , Gordon Square London . Reports from the, Chairman Roy Friendship-Taylor, Secretary Chris Cumberpatch, and Treasurer Bernard Johnson were presented. The accounts were adopted, and members of council were thanked for their hard work and support.