Excavating the Athenian Agora: the Stoa Basileios

The Stoa Basileios, Athens © David Gill

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens is marking 90 years of excavation in the Athenian agora. John McK Camp II, the director, has given an on-site webinar to explain the early fifth century BC Stoa Basileios on the north side of this public space adjacent to the Panathenaic Way. He runs through various features including ‘the oath stone’, the placing of herms, and the public display of the Athenian constitution. He then expands on the vision to make this part of the agora more accessible to the public. It is a privilege to hear such a distinguished excavator explain his work and thinking in situ.

The webinar is available here.

The Stoa Basileios, Athens © David Gill

St Mawes: John Leland’s texts

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St Mawes © David Gill

The Tudor Royal Arms were placed above the main entrance to the keep at St Mawes, with the Latin text, Dieu et Mon Droit, below. Above the crest is the statement:

Semper Honos / Henrice Tuus / Laudesque Manebunt.

(Henry, your honour and praises will remain forever.)

This is one of four texts composed by the poet, antiquary and royal chaplain, John Leland (c. 1503–1552) at the request of Thomas Treffry of Fowey (a detail mentioned in Leland’s Itinerary).

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St Mawes © David Gill

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St Mawes © David Gill

On the opposite side, above the door leading from the keep to the forward bastion is another Royal Coast of Arms. Either side are two Tritons:

Semper Vivet A(n)i(m)a Re/gis Henrici Octavi / Qui An(no) 34 Sui Reg/ni Hoc Fecit Fieri.

(May the soul of King Henry Eighth, who had this built in the 34th year of his reign, live forever.)

Henry came to the throne in 1509, and this places the completion of the castle in 1543. (It was started in 1540.)

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St Mawes © David Gill

Another text is placed above the crest on the west bastion, celebrating Henry’s son, Edward (who is proclaimed on the eastern bastion as Duke of Cornwall, a title given at his baptism in 1537).

Edwardus Fama Referat Factisque Parentem.

(May Edward resemble his father in fame and deeds.)

Further texts are placed on the south (Henry, king of England, France and Ireland) and east (Edward) bastions.

Guidebooks by P.K. Baillie Reynolds

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1951 (2012 reprint)

Paul Kenneth Baillie Reynolds (1896–1973) wrote a number of guidebooks for monuments in state guardianship.

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1956 (repr. 1970)

Baillie Reynolds was educated a Winchester College, and Hertford College, Oxford. His studies were interrupted by service in the Royal Field Artillery (1915–19) when he served in the 4th West Riding (Howitzer) Brigade. On completion of his studies he became a Pelham Student at the British School at Rome (1921–23). He published Thomas Ashby’s notes on the Castra Peregrinorum as well as a study of the troops based there in the Journal of Roman Studies (1923). In 1923 he was made an award by the Craven Fund to continue his research at the British School at Rome; the other awards were made to William A. Heurtley of Oriel College, and C.A. Ralegh Radford of Exeter College.

In 1924 he was appointed Assistant Master, Winchester College, and later the same year Lecturer in Ancient History, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (1924–34) where the principal from 1927 to 1934 was (Sir) Henry Stuart-Jones, a former director of the British School at Rome. Baillie Reynolds published The Vigiles of Imperial Rome (Oxford University Press, 1926). From 1926–29 he directed the excavation of the Roman auxiliary fort at Caerhun (Canovium) to the south of Conwy in north Wales; the final report was published by him in 1938. In 1931 he was responsible for excavating the north gate, and in 1932 the west gate of Verulamium as part of the wider project directed by (Sir) Mortimer and Tessa Wheeler. He was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (1929).

In 1934 he was appointed Inspector of Ancient Monuments for England, Ministry of Works. In 1936 in his capacity as Inspector he supported the proposal to preserve the remains of the Jewry Wall in Leicester that had been excavated by Kathleen Kenyon. In 1935 he was elected to the Council for the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies, serving alongside Ralegh Radford.  In 1947 he was one of the people who helped to acquire the Roman site of Wall from the National Trust.

Baillie Reynolds joined the Royal Field Artillery (TA) (1927–39) while he was in Aberystwyth, and during the Second World War served as a Major in the Royal Artillery (1939–45).

In 1954 he became Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Ministry of Works (1954–1961) replacing B.H. St John O’Neil; A.J. Taylor was appointed Assistant Chief Inspector. One of his projects was the intervention at Corfe Castle in 1959 to stabilise the ruins. Another was the restoration of West Kennet Long Barrow and Wayland’s Smithy; he defended his decisions in The Daily Telegraph (28 July 1962) describing the work as ‘no more a “fake” than is the reconstructed Portland Vase’. In 1960 he advised on the restoration of the Claudian aqueduct that ran through the grounds of the British Embassy in Rome. He retired in 1961 and was succeeded by Taylor.

In 1963 he was elected President, Royal Archaeological Institute (1963–1966) succeeding Ralegh Radford. He was made OBE (1950) and CBE (1957). Baillie Reynolds died in 1973.

Obituary: The Times 25 August 1973.

Perikles and the present

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Perikles from Towneley Collection, British Museum © David Gill

The Athenian general Perikles died from the plague in the early years of the Peloponnesian War (see Thucydides Book II). As illness hit the city, sanctuaries were ‘doored up’ to prevent people taking refuge in the sacred spaces. The urban population had been swollen as people had fled inside the walls as a Spartan army ravaged the countryside of Attica.

This fifth century BC leader and the epidemic that hit Athens provide a model for our present time: “Coronavirus: What Boris Johnson’s Greek hero teaches us about epidemics“, BBC News 13 April 2020.

“And all that mighty heart is lying still!”

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Dove Cottage © David Gill

Today is the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wordsworth.

His ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802‘ seems an appropriate poem to recall.

Winifred Lamb: from the Argolid to Anatolia

A lecture on Winifred Lamb to mark 100 years since the first women were elected as Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries. Lamb excavated at Mycenae, Sparta, in Macedonia, on Lesbos (Thermi and Antissa) and Chios (Kato Phana), and then at Kusura in Turkey.

Alan Sorrell: creating visions of the past

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2018

How do you interpret archaeological sites to make them understood by the public? This book looks at the influential work of Alan Sorrell: the subtitle, ‘The man who created Roman Britain’, perhaps indicates the impact of his work.

Roman Britain features prominently: Hadrian’s Wall (fig. 99; Cover), the Carrawburgh mithraeum (fig. 102a–b), Housesteads fort (fig. 110), Caerleon legionary fortress (figs. 1), 80, the forum at Leicester (fig. 25), London (figs. 87, 104a–c, 106), Caerwent (figs. 28, 84a–b, 86a–b), Wroxeter (fig. 118), Bath (fig. 119a–b), Llantwit Major villa (fig. 85), and Lullingstone villa (fig. 98c). Medieval structures in state guardianship appear: Harlech and Conwy Castles (fig. 54a–b), the Bishop’s Palace at St Davids (fig. 69), Tintern Abbey (fig. 65a) and Jedbergh Abbey (fig. 65b).

Looking to Greece there are reconstructions of the Palace of Nestor at Pylos (figs. 17, 105), excavated by Carl Blegen, and the Palace at Knossos on Crete (fig. 41a).

The section on his work for the National Museum of Wales was particularly helpful. The reconstruction of Maen Madoc in the Brecon Beacons was instructive (fig. 89). Sorrell’s work with William Francis Grimes was given prominence.

The commissioning of reconstructions for sites in state guardianship is presented in some detail. We are presented with the views of P.K. Baillie Reynolds, Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments: ‘They should have a good public appeal’. Yet at the same time Baillie Reynolds opposed the use of such reconstructions. This was in contrast with A.J. Taylor: ‘I should, personally, very much like to see in due course Sorrell drawings of all our North Wales Edwardian castles’. The use of Sorrell reconstructions in the Ministry’s ‘Blue Guides’ is itself constructive.

Sorrell, Julia, and Mark Sorrell. 2018. Alan Sorrell: the man who created Roman Britain. Oxford: Oxbow.

100 Years of Female Antiquaries

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On 3 June 1920 the first two women, Rose Graham (1875–1963) and Eugénie Strong (1860–1943),  were elected as Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London. The Society of Antiquaries will be marking the centenary of this event with a series of papers on International Women’s Day on Monday 9 March 2020.

I have been invited to speak about Winifred Lamb who excavated in Greece and Turkey in the 1920s and 1930s, and later contributed to the establishment of the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara.

Winifred Lamb (1894–1963) was a pioneering archaeologist conducting fieldwork in Greece and Turkey. She read classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, where Dorothy Garrod (1892–1968) was her contemporary, before joining Room 40 at the Admiralty in the later stages of the First World War. She was admitted as a student of the British School at Athens in the autumn of 1920 and excavated at Mycenae with Alan J.B. Wace and Carl Blegen. She subsequently worked on the British excavations at Sparta (1924) and in Macedonia (1925, 1929), before directing her own excavation at Thermi on Lesbos (1929–33). Her work on Lesbos was recognised by her election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries on 25 February 1932, and later by the award of a ScD from the University of Cambridge (1940). After work on Chios (1934), she directed the excavation of the Bronze Age site of Kusura in western Turkey (1935–37).

Half century and hospitality

Heritage, hospitality and culture in business is intimately bound together in any China visit with the University. Yesterday’s catch up with our colleagues at Beijing Technical & Business University saw us exchanging gifts, which remains a key cultural expectation in any business meeting. It tangibly represents the more intangible bond of friendship, reciprocity in culture and trust which underpin successful and prosperous partnerships which must be nurtured over time. BTBU has a historical association with the marketing and development of the traditional drink Baiju – and on previous visits #heritagehospitality has been free-flowing. Perhaps luckily yesterday the meeting was too early in the day, as little else may have been achieved.

We ended the day learning more about the heritage of birthday traditions, where celebrating the 9 in an age is more important than the 0. Reasons for this are explained here. One of our colleagues on the trip has turned 50 today, so it was culturally appropriate to feast on the eve of his birthday (whilst still 49) to wish him a long life.

Disney, Danbury and the RNLI

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Danbury church © David Gill

Danbury Place in Essex was the home of the Ffytche family. Frances Elizabeth was the daughter of Lewis Disney (1738–1822) and his wife Elizabeth Ffytche (1749–87); they took the family name of Disney-Ffytche on marriage in 1775. Elizabeth was born in Madras.

Frances Elizabeth was born in 1776, and her (surviving) sister Sophia in 1777. After Elizabeth’s death in 1787, the Disney-Ffytche family moved to Paris in 1791, and then fled to Italy in 1793 where they met (Sir) William Hillary (in 1795). Frances Elizabeth married Hillary on February 1800, and they then lived at Danbury. They were granted a divorce in 1812, yet the memorial inscription describes Frances as the wife of Sir William Hillary (and he had remarried in August 1813). Hillary went on to found what became the RNLI. Frances died at Jericho House, Blackmore, her daughter’s home, in August 1828.

Frances’ sister Sophia was married to Dr John Disney, benefactor of the chair of archaeology at Cambridge.