Signs and the Walls of Norwich

Norwich City Wall
Norwich: The Old City Wall (2015)

A group of us walked the line of the city wall of Norwich today. Some of the sections are well preserved, and the line is marked out along pavements and even in the middle of one of the roundabouts. We came across a number of metal plaques that noted ‘This forms part of the old city wall built during the 13th-14th centuries’.

One of the suggestions is that they were placed on the wall by the Office of Works either in the early part of the 20th century or in the 1930s.

Restoration at Kingarth

The Church of St Blane, Kingarth © David Gill

The church of St Blane’s at Kingarth lies at the southern end of the island of Bute. The site is now managed by Historic Scotland.

I was particularly interested in the contribution of Robert Weir Schultz. I had come across him as an architect at the British School at Athens. (Further bibliographical details can be found in Sifting the Soil of Greece.) Weir Schultz had a strong interest in Byzantine churches.

The connection with the 3rd Marquess of Bute is also significant.

Heritage Signs for Temple Wood

Temple Wood
Sign for the Temple Wood Circle, Kilmartin © David Gill

There is something reassuring about the retention of the ‘old’ sign for the Temple Wood stone circle(s) in the prehistoric landscape around Kilmartin. The site is now managed by Historic Scotland.

Heritage Signs: Commandant’s House

Chesters Roman Fort: Commandant’s House © David Gill

Foundations of buildings can be hard to understand and the Ministry of Works labelled individual buildings and features for visitors. This sign is placed on the east side of the ‘Commandant’s House’ at Chesters Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall (Northumberland).

Professor Eric Birley’s guide (Chesters Roman Fort, Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, 1960; sixth impression 1970) has a section on the ‘Commandant’s House and bath-house’ (p. 21). The building was excavated by John Clayton in 1843. The same terminology is also used on the fort plan.

Nick Hodgson’s guide (Chesters Roman Fort, English Heritage, 2011) has a section on the ‘Commanding officer’s house (Praetorium)’ (no. 4) and ‘Praetorium baths’ (no. 5). Indeed the sign ‘Commandant’s House’ is placed on what Hodgson defines as the ‘Praetorium baths’.

My 13th edition of Collingwood Bruce’s Handbook to the Roman Wall (1978) [ed. Charles Daniels] identifies the ‘House and baths of commandant’ (on the plan) but discusses ‘the commanding-officer’s house’ and ‘the commanding-officers’ [sic.] bath-house’ (p. 115). My 14th edition (2006; David J. Breeze) refers to the ‘commanding officer’s house’ (p. 203).

The path to Hallaig

Hallaig sign
Footpath to Hallaig © David Gill

There can be few signs that can stir the emotions like this one marking the path along the east side of Raasay to the clearance village of Hallaig. The poem by Sorley MacLean (and translated here by Seamus Heaney) evokes the ruined houses nestling under the cliffs on a small plateau. But the walk along the carefully constructed turfy path makes a connection with the communities that lived and worked here. 

Heritage Signage at Dunstaffnage Castle

Car-park sign at Dunstaffnage Castle, Scotland © David Gill, 2014

The new signs at sites managed by CADW, English Heritage and Historic Scotland include graphics and information panels, and each has adopted the corporate identity of its heritage organisation. But I wonder if part of the heritage of heritage sites is being lost as the “old” cast signs there were in use from the eras of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works (MPBW) and the Department of Environment are replaced. Are they documented? Are they being deposited in a store?

So it is good to see some of the older signs still on show at some of the more remote heritage sites.

%d bloggers like this: