Alan Sorrell: creating visions of the past

Sorrell_RB_cov
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.

Augustinian Abbeys and Priories in State Care

South and South-East England

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The church of St Mary, Portchester © David Gill

Southwick Priory, Hampshire [EH]. The community dates to 1133 when it was established by Henry I at Portchester. The priory moved to its present site within the next two decades.

Bushmead Priory, Bedfordshire [EH]. Founded c. 1195.

East Anglia

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St Botolph’s Priory © David Gill

St Botolph’s Priory, Colchester, Essex [EH]. The Augustinian priory was founded c. 1100. It was probably one of the earliest foundations in England.

Waltham Abbey, Essex [EH]. The Augustinian priory was founded in 1177 and it later became an abbey.

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Creake Abbey, Norfolk © David Gill

Creake Abbey, Norfolk [EH]. The monastic site has its origins in 1206, although the Augustinian priory is later.

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St Olave’s Priory © David Gill

St Olave’s Priory, Norfolk [EH]. The priory was founded c. 1216.

Central England

Haughmond Abbey, Shropshire [EH]. The Augustinian abbey was founded in 1135.

Lilleshall Abbey, Shropshire [EH]. Founded around 1148.

White Ladies Priory, Shropshire (Augustinian canonesses) [EH]. This seems to have been founded in 1186.

 

Wales

Llanthony Priory, Gwent [Cadw]. The priory was established c. 1118.

Penmon Priory, Anglesey [Cadw]. The monastic community became an Augustinian priory in the 13th century.

North-East and Yorkshire

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Gisborough Priory © David Gill

Gisborough Priory, Yorkshire [EH]. There are two foundation dates in 1119 and 1129.

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Kirkham Priory © David Gill

Kirkham Priory, Yorkshire [EH]. Founded by Walter l’Espec c. 1122, probably on the site of an earlier foundation.

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Brinkburn Priory © David Gill

Brinkburn Priory, Northumberland [EH]. Founded by William Bertran between 1130 and 1135.

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Thornton Abbey © David Gill

Thornton Abbey, Lincolnshire [EH]. Founded in 1140.

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Lanercost Priory © David Gill

Lanercost Priory, Cumbria [EH]. The traditional foundation date of the priory is 1169 in memory of Hubert de Vaux.

Scotland

Holyrood, Midlothian [HES]. The Augustinian abbey was founded by King David I in 1128.

Restenneth, Angus [HES]. The Augustinian priory was established  by King David I.

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St Andrews © David Gill

St Andrews, Fife [HES]. The Augustinian foundation dates to c. 1130.

Jedburgh, Roxburghshire [HES]. The Augustinian priory was founded here in 1138 by King David I. This became an abbey in 1154.

Cambuskenneth, Stirlingshire (Augustinian of Arrouaise) [HES]. Founded around 1140 by King David I.

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Inchmahome Priory © David Gill

Inchmahome Priory, Perthshire [HES]. The priory was founded c. 1238 by the Earl of Menteith.

 

 

Tintern Abbey: guidebooks

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Tintern Abbey © David Gill

Tintern Abbey was transferred to the Office of Works in 1914. The guidebook was prepared by the architect Sir Harold Brakspear (1934). Brakspear had helped to plan the ruins after they were purchased by the Crown in 1901, and before they were conserved.

Tintern_MPBW_blue
1956 (repr. 1968)

A replacement ‘blue guide’ was prepared by O.E. Craster in 1956. This took the standard pattern of history followed by description. A plan of the abbey was placed in the centre pages.

Tintern_DOE_blue
1956 (9th impress. 1977)

Craster’s guide continued to be published into the 1970s. This included some elements in Welsh: Abaty Tyndyrn (on the title page, but not on the cover), and a short summary of just over one page at the beginning.

The centre page plan was placed on a fold-out plan inside the back cover. The glossary was expanded to include: ashlar, barrel vault, conversi, garth, jamb, lay brother, lintel, mullion, novice, papal bull, plinth, pulpitum, quire, refectory, screen, vestment and vestry. It also dropped: aisle, bay, boss, capital, crossing, floriated, sexfoil.

Tintern_souvenir_cov
1960; 1964, 2nd ed.; 1967, 3rd impress.

Craster also prepared the illustrated souvenir guide (1960; 2nd ed. 1964). It included historical background; a tour of the abbey; the first tourists. The tour is numbered on the plan.

Tintern_Cadw_card
1985

The tour in the souvenir guide in effect turns into the card guide that continued to be published under Cadw.

Tintern_Cadw
1986; 2nd ed. 1990; 3rd ed. 1995; 4th ed. 2002

The Cadw guidebook was prepared by David M. Robinson. This includes a history of the abbey, a section on building the abbey, and a tour of the abbey. A foldout plan (in colour) is printed inside the back (card) cover.

St Davids Bishop’s Palace: guidebooks

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The Cathedral from the Bishop’s Palace, St Davids © David Gill

The Bishop’s Palace at St Davids was placed in State Guardianship in 1932. The official guidebook was prepared by C.A. Ralegh Radford. The first edition appeared in 1934, and the second edition in 1953. This starts with the history of the palace followed by a description of the remains. There is a foldout plan inside the back cover.

StDavids_MPBW
1953 (2nd ed.)

The blue guide continued into the 1970s as a DOE guide, published on behalf of the Welsh Office. On the title page (but not the cover) the Welsh title is provided: Llys  yr Esgob Tyddewi. It included a reconstruction by Alan Sorrell. A summary in Welsh is provided at the back of the guide.

St_Davids_palace
1953 (2nd ed.; 11th impress. with amendments, 1971)

The Cadw guide changed the title with the emphasis on St Davids (and note the dropping of the apostrophe). The author was by J. Wyn Evans, Dean of the neighbouring cathedral. It starts with ‘A Palace for Prelates: Historical Background’, and is followed by ‘A Tour of the Bishop’s Palace’. At the back is a section on ‘Bishops as Builders: a Summary of the Building History’ by Rick Turner. There is a plan of the palace inside the card rear cover. One page summarises the guide in Welsh.

The guide includes a section on St Non’s Chapel.

StDavids_palace_Cadw
1991

A revised version of the Wyn Evans and Turner guide was reissued in the larger Cadw format.

StDavids_palace_Cadw_large
1991 (rev. 1999)

 

Caerwent: Guidebooks

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Caerwent © David Gill

The Roman town of Venta Silurum at Caerwent, Wales, has impressive walls as well as the excavated remains of some the public buildings.

The original Ministry guidebook was prepared by Oswin E. Craster. It follows the standard format of History and Description, with a foldout plan inside the back cover. The later editions contained a reconstruction of the town by Alan Sorrell.

Caerwent
(1951) [1970]
This was replaced by a Cadw guide by Richard J. Brewer. This contained a history followed by a tour guide. There is a foldout plan inside the back card cover. There are numerous colour illustrations including finds from the site.

 

Caerwent
1993

A second edition of the guide, in larger format, was published in 1997.

Cerwent_Cadw_2
1993 (2nd ed. 1997)

A third edition in a yet larger format appeared in 2006. This contains details of recent excavations at the site.

The new guide also included a section on the nearby Llanmelin Wood Hillfort.

Caerwent_cadw_2006
1993 (2nd ed. 1996; 3rd ed. 2006)

Valle Crucis Abbey: guidebooks

ValleCrucis_DOE
1953 (rev. 1971)

The abbey at Valle Crucis was founded in 1201 from Strata Marcella. The site was placed in State Guardianship in 1951.

C.A. Ralegh Radford prepared the first guidebook in 1953 consisting of the standard history followed by a description. A fold-out plan was placed inside the back cover. The 1971 edition included the Welsh name on the tile page (Abaty Glyn y Groes) along with a short summary in Welsh (pp. 21–22). The guide included a study of some of the early gave slabs.

ValleCrucis_Cadw
1987

The Cadw guide contained two sections: Valle Crucis Abbey by D.H. Evans, and The Pillar of Eliseg by Jeremy K. Knight (1987). This consists of the main sections: Historical background; the development of the abbey buildings; a descriptive tour of Valle Crucis. A fold-out plan of the abbey is printed inside the card cover. A short summary in Welsh was provided (p. 46).

This guide was revised in 1995.

ValleCrucis_Cadw_large
1987 (rev. 1995)

 

White Castle: guidebooks

Three_Castles_Cadw
1991 (2nd ed. rev. 2000)

White Castle lies between Abergavenny and Monmouth in the Welsh Marches. Its origins lie in the Norman Conquest of the region, but the earliest stone remains date to the 12th century. It was placed in State Guardianship in 1922.

C.A. Ralegh Radford prepared the guidebook for White Castle in 1934 (along with the other two castles of ‘The Three Castles’: Grosmont and Skenfrith). The DOE Blue Guide is partially bilingual.  The title page (but not the cover) gives the English and Welsh titles of the site: White Castle / Castell Gwyn, and it was prepared by the DOE on behalf of the Secretary of State for Wales. The guide is in two main parts: history and description. However it is introduced with a short summary in Welsh (pp. 5–7). There is a foldout plan inside the back cover.

The 1991 Cadw guide for the Three Castles was prepared by Jeremy K. Knight.

White_castle_blue
1962 (7th impress. 1976)