Greece: Museum visitors

National Archaeological Museum, Athens © David Gill

In 2019 there were 5.89 million visits to museums in Greece, worth over 23 million Euros in receipts. The two museums with the highest number of visitors are the New Akropolis Museum (with 1.7 million visitors in 2019) and the National Archaeological Museum in Athens (with 608,000 visitors in 2019). These two museums account for 40 per cent of all public museum visits in the country. Museums in Attiki account for 2.7 million visits, 47 per cent of all public museums visits in the country.

Other areas with high museums visits include Thessaloniki with 591,000 visits (10 per cent of visits), the Dodecanese (including Rhodes) with 381,000 visits (6 per cent of visits), and Crete with 845,000 visits (14 per cent of visits); the site museums of Delphi had 275,000 visits, and Olympia 159,000 visits (together 7 per cent of visits).

© David Gill. Data: Hellenic Statistical Service.

Pergamon: the sanctuary of Athena

The sanctuary of Athena, Pergamon © David Gill

The sanctuary of Athena is located on a terrace immediately above the theatre on the acropolis at Pergamon. The temple of Athena, built in Doric order, was placed on the western edge for dramatic affect.

The propylon of the sanctuary of Athena Nikephoros, Pergamon (now in Berlin) © David Gill

The entrance to the sanctuary was through a two-storeyed propylon, now reconstructed in Berlin. The inscription shows that it was constructed by King Eumenes II to Athena Nikephoros (who had brought victories over the Galatians, among others). Trophies from the victories are shown in relief on the propylon.

The propylon of the sanctuary of Athena Nikephoros, Pergamon (now in Berlin) © David Gill
The Dying Gaul, Museo Capitolino, Rome © David Gill

The temenos displayed a number of sculptures celebrating these victories. Among them was probably the original of the ‘trumpeter’ (better known as The Dying Gaul) now in Rome.

The full effect of the sanctuary has been lost on site but it can be reconstructed in our imagination through the architectural reconstructions in Berlin as well as the copies of some of victory monuments from the sanctuary itself.

The Sutton Hoo excavations and William Francis Grimes

Sutton Hoo © David Gill

The contribution of William Francis Grimes to the Sutton Hoo excavations can sometimes be overlooked. Grimes was born in Pembroke and was an undergraduate at Cardiff where he read Latin; he then joined the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff where he initially worked on Roman pottery from Holt. However, his main interest was in prehistory, and in 1938 he joined the archaeological section of the Ordnance Survey. His expertise in working on organic materials was thought suitable for the excavation at Sutton Hoo where his ‘work in dissecting and removing the majority of the buried deposits was invaluable’ (AntJ 1940).

For his life see ODNB. See also his guidebooks for prehistoric sites in Wales as well as his excavation of the Walbrook Mithraeum in London.

Caerleon: Roman barracks

Caerleon © David Gill

A set of Roman barracks from the legionary fortress at Caerleon (Isca Silurum) lies in the north-west corner in a location known as Prysg Field. They were excavated by Victor Nash-Williams from 1927 to 1929. Each of the four blocks that can be viewed would have held a century. The accommodation for the centurion was placed at the end of each block.

Caerleon © David Gill

The World of Disney

My new biography of Dr John Disney, founder of the John Disney Chair of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and benefactor of the Disney Marbles now displayed at the Fitzwilliam Museum, has been published by Archaeopress.

The family’s origins lay at Norton Disney in Lincolnshire where they had settled after the Norman conquest. Disney’s father, the Reverend John Disney, inherited The Hyde near Ingatestone in Essex from Thomas Brand-Hollis. The house contained the Grand Tour collection formed by Brand-Hollis and Thomas Hollis. The Reverend John Disney had met Brand-Hollis through the Unitarian Essex Street Chapel in London where he had ministered after leaving the Church of England.

John Disney inherited The Hyde from his father and presented much of the collection to the University of Cambridge. The objects were described in his Museum Disneianum. Some of the items can be traced back to his wife, Sophia, or uncle (and father-in-law), Lewis Disney-Ffytche, during their time in Naples after they had been forced to flee Paris during the Revolution. Disney-Ffytche had been the owner of Le Désert de Retz, the pleasure gardens near Paris.

Disney himself helped to establish a new museum in Chelmsford through the Chelmsford Philosophical Society. He was a key member of the Essex Archaeological Society.

Contents

1. The Disney family of Lincolnshire

2. The Break with the Church of England

3. Collectors of the Grand Tour: Thomas Hollis and Thomas Brand

4. The Disney family and Essex

5. The Hyde and its collection

6. Disney and Learned Societies

7. The Museum Disneianum and Cambridge

8. Going for Gold

9. The Disney legacy

The World of Disney: From Antiquarianism to Archaeology (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2020). ISBN 9781789698275.

Who Built Scotland

(2018) [2017 Hardback]

This wonderful series of essays—journeys in the title—transports us from Mousa Broch on Shetland, to Abbotsford in the Borders; from Bell Rock Lighthouse off Angus, to Sweeney’s Bothy on Eigg.

Kathleen Jamie ignites our imagination with her reflection on Geldie Burn, and more specifically Mesolithic sites in their landscape. Her essay on Maggie’s Centre in Fife makes sense of contemporary therapeutic space by comparing this location with the prehistoric site at Links of Noltland on Westray.

Some of the locations are well-known and perhaps to be expected: Calanais (James Robertson), Iona Abbey (Alexander McCall Smith), and Edinburgh Castle (Alistair Moffat). But there are some unexpected gems here: James Robertson in Innerpeffray Library.

I was surproisingly gripped by Alistair Mofffat on Glenlivet Distillery and Inchmyre Prefabs, and James Crawford on Hampden Park and Sullom Voe. They were reminders of how society can leave its mark on the built environment.

James Robertson’s essay on Auld Alloway Kirk not only explores Tam O’ Shanter, but also rural parish churches, for example at Kiltearn and Croick. Alexander McCall Smith reflects on the Italian Chapel on Orkney.

This creative volume provides a range of insights and voices on Scotland’s history.

Guidebooks to the Roman Frontier

1952 [5th impress. 1960]

The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne has had two features on the official Ministry and English Heritage guidebooks of Hadrian’s Wall in their News Bulletin:

David W. J. Gill, ‘Guiding us along the Roman wall’, 69 (September 2020), p. 3

Nick Hodgson, ‘Guiding us along the Roman frontier, Part II’, 70 (December 2020), p. 5

Corbridge (with update); Chesters (with update); Housesteads; Birdoswald; Hadrian’s Wall

Cluniac foundations in State Guardianship

Crossraguel Abbey
Crossraguel Abbey © David Gill

The Cluniac order was derived from the abbey at Cluny. The order was introduced to England at the priory of Lewes by William de Warenne, the first Earl of Surrey, and his wife Gundrada.

Wenlock_MPBW
1965

Wenlock Priory, Shropshire. [EH] The Cluniac foundation was made from St Mary of La Charité that had been refounded in 1059; Wenlock’s foundation by Roger Earl of Shrewsbury was likely to have been between 1080 and 1082. The priory was on the site of a late 7th century Anglo-Saxon nunnery.

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Castle Acre Priory © David Gill

Castle Acre Priory, Norfolk. [EH] The priory is likely to have been founded by William de Warenne, the second early of Surrey, probably after his father’s death in 1088.

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Thetford Priory © David Gill

Thetford Priory, Norfolk. [EH] The priory was founded in 1103/4 by Roger Bigod. The monks came from the priory at Lewes.

Monk Bretton Priory, Yorkshire. [EH] The priory was founded in 1154 from Pontefract.

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Crossraguel Abbey © David Gill

Crossraguel Abbey, Ayrshire. [HES] Crossraguel was founded as a result of an episcopal ruling in 1244. It was one of two Cluniac foundations in Scotland; the other was Paisley Abbey.

The Attalids in Athens

The Stoa of Attalos © David Gill

I am looking forward to next in the seminar series from the American School of Classical Studies at Athens that will be looking at the Stoa of Attalos that forms the eastern edge of the Athenian Agora.

Complex heritage sites like the Athenian Agora and the Akropolis can present a series of narratives. The two-storeyed colonnade or stoa was dedicated by King Attalos II of Pergamon in north-west Anatolia (159–138 BC).

The Eponymous Heroes in the Agora © David Gill

The father of Attalos II, Attalos I (along with Ptolemy III Euergetes), was added to the representation of the ten heroes (The Eponymous Heroes) representing each of the Athenian tribes in 200 BC.

Retaining Wall of the Stoa of Eumenes © David Gill

Eumenes II (197–159 BC), the elder son of Attalos I, added a two-storeyed stoa on the southern slope of the Athenian Akropolis adjacent to the theatre of Dionysos. The rear of the stoa consists of a substantial retaining wall. Above and behind the stoa was the road that ran around the Akropolis and into the theatre of Dionysos. The effect of the colonnade would have mirrored the stoa at Pergamon that flanked the theatre on the slope of the royal city’s akropolis.

Monument of Eumenes II at the north-west corner of the Propylaia © David Gill

A major monument celebrating Eumenes II and dated after 178 BC was placed adjacent to the Pinakotheke at the main western entrance to the Athenian Akropolis. It in effect balances the temple of Athena Nike on the other side of the main access ramp. Eumenes was placed in a four-horse chariot. At the end of the 1st century BC the portrait of Eumenes was replaced by that of Agrippa.

Cutting for the Attalid monument at the north-east corner of the Parthenon © David Gill

The cutting for another Attalid monument, dedicated to Attalos II, can be found immediately to the north-east of the Parthenon. This also supported a monumental chariot; this referenced the chariot of Helios that appears in the most northerly of the metopes on the east side of the Parthenon.

To the east of the Parthenon itself were displayed a series of sculptures, seen by Pausanias (1.25.2), celebrating victories over the giants, the Amazons, the Persians and the Gauls. These had parallels in the sanctuary of Athena on the Pergamon akropolis.

The north-east corner of the Parthenon © David Gill

RSA Heritage Index: West Suffolk

The Norman Gate to the Abbey of St Edmund © David Gill

The 2020 RSA Heritage Index is now available. West Suffolk has been placed at 122nd in England: Ipswich is at 87th, and East Suffolk at 98th. West Suffolk’s strengths have been identified as Culture and Memories (69th) and Landscape and Natural Heritage (72nd). Surprisingly, given the importance of Bury St Edmunds, the Historic Built Environment is placed at 165th and Museums, Archives and Artefacts at 173rd.