Showing posts from 2006

Britain pays war debt

This week Britain finally paid back our debt to the US from world war 2. War Debt Article

Black death - human flea's role?

Very good article on the Black Death reported on Britarch - it has a useful summary of the various viewpoints very well. It concludes that there were indeed some differences from the 19th Century bubonic plague - mainly in how virulent it was and comes to the conclusion that this is because the plague was spread by the human flea.   The Shifting Explanations for the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague in Human History By John Kelly    

Museums Without Barriers Grant application rejected

I found out today our application for the Museums without Barriers grant from MLA, London was rejected. The pot had very little money in it and they could afford few grants but as I had gone on the training course, met the grant coordinator I was pretty sure we would be successful, but I think I left the project too open-ended and lost out to more tightly constrained projects. I wanted a visit by the consultants to help us decide how best to concentrate our efforts to improve access. The application was that simple - obviously too simple that they did not think we had put any effort in. Very annoyed.

London Array Windfarm proposed

A huge windfarm planned for the Thames Estuary called the London array will provide 1% of the UK energy requirement. For more details:

How London is Divided Up

The LDA - London Development Agency divides London up as follows: I have no idea who made these decisions but clearly some are not so obvious. For example, Southwark is in the Central Region but the City is in the Eastern Region given that all the bridges across the Thames in Southwark join up with the City this seems crazy! A report which discusses the issue of dividing up London can be seen here. Central sub-region Camden Islington Kensington & Chelsea Lambeth Southwark Wandsworth Westminster North sub-region Barnet Enfield Haringey Waltham Forest East sub-region Barking & Dagenham Bexley Corporation of London Greenwich Hackney Havering Lewisham Newham Redbridge Tower Hamlets South sub-region Bromley Croydon Kingston Merton Richmond Sutton West sub-region Brent Ealing Harrow Hammersmith and Fulham Hillingdon Hounslow

Sign here to save the Theatre Museum

I joined the save the theatre museum campaign, and send email to everyone in my mailing list. Guardians of the Theatre Museum

30m New Visitors since Free Museums

30m more visitors have attended museums in the last 5 years, 6m this year. This has been attributed by Tessa Jowell to the introduction of free museum entry 5 years ago but it has also benefitted charging museums too so not entirely sure why the numbers have gone up. Guardian Article

End of year at the Old Operating Theatre Museum

We had our Christmas party at the Bermondsey Kitchen on Bermondsey Street last night. The restaurant was a long way down the street towards the site of the old Abbey -this street has come up so much in the last few years - it is now full of restaurants and pubs. Dinner was good and how amazing that we have come through such a hard year in such good heart. We survived 6 months enforced closure, we built an alternative display and moved back into the old museum with just a couple of days closed. Our visit numbers are back up and the staff have done just amazing work. Its inspirational. We move into yet another year of uncertainty, as the Landlord is selling the building under us and we hope to buy it, but fear someone else will buy it before we can raise the money.

Cognitive Dissonance and the Post Grad Certificate in Higher Education

One of the students,at the Post Grad Certificate in Higher Education in Art and Design, final meeting at Catton Street, complained that she was suffering from 'Cognitive dissonance' which she defined as the acquisition of extra knowledge creating an inability to progress - I guess a lack of confidence in one's abilities now that you know you knew nothing before!

East End Dwellings Company

Went for an interesting short walk behind the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. From the Museum or from Bethnal Green Tube, walk down Cambridge Heath Street to the Sir John Soane's St John's Church built in 1826. Turn left into Roman Road and walk along until the Buddhist centre and turn left up Globe Road. The road has got an interesting series of public housing built by the East End Industrial Dwellings Company between 1900 and 1906. The company were one of the philanthropic societies called the 5 percentage companies - which tried to build good housing for the poor and make a 5% return to encourage commercial landlords to improve their standards. There is nice no smoking pub of the period, with great tiled exterior called the Camel - does pie and mash for food.

Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood -reopens

The V&A Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green reopened and we visited on its second weekend open. I think it is disappointing. To me the overriding problem of the old museum was that it was not much fun - it was a traditional object-orientated display-case Museum that was really designed for adults revisiting their childhood toys. It was not really designed for children - the museum of childhood not the museum for children Not much has really changed. On the plus side are new front-of-house facilities, education rooms, toilets, a lovely new pink/lilac paintjob for the old corrugated iron shed, new cases, more interactives and hands on activities (a surprising number of which are 'out of order)' And yes there is definitely more fun here for the kids but the displays are still traditional case bound object displays and it is still a Museum of Childhood and not really a children's Museum. The objects are still in rectangular cases of particular dullness, an

Theatre Museum may relocate to Blackpool

The threatened Theatre Museum is having discussions with Blackpool about moving the collection after it closes in Covent Garden. This seems a disaster to me as much of the Collection is London based and a West End location seems the most appropriate. I am surprised that there has not been a storm of protest about the Theatre Museum - I think this is because the HLF refused two grant applications on account, it is said, of the difficult site the Theatre Museum occupies - being essential subterranean. And so we acquiesce. However, the site is difficult not impossible and it is in the right place - just over the road from the West End's first theatre, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, close by the Royal Opera House and near most of the great London Theatres. This suggests to me that the HLF has too much power - they reject a grant, the Museum closes, and we all accept it! To help protect the Theatre Museum Guardians of the Theatre Museum

Guys World Medical Heritage Site

Is this a red letter day for the Old Operating Theatre Museum? I have just heard that Kings are pursuing the idea of the Medical Heritage site that I have been discussing with James Buxton and which was discussed with the Guys and St Thomas Charity. A meeting of interested party is planned. Could be this is what the Museum needs for its development?

London Museums of Health and Medicine AGM

I attended the AGM of the London Museums of Health and Medicine at the Dana Centre yesterday afternoon. A very good turn out and its good to see that the network is beginning to become more proactive after a few years of resting on its laurels. The main work of the museum network has been the production of a joint leaflet and general networking, which it has done really well. However, the group is now looking at other joint activities such as a joint events programme, and creating some resources on the web site. Robert Bud and his team reported on the Science Museum's projects in particular a new project called 'Sickness and Health' to create a new web resource for the 'Medicine through time' curriculum and for Medical Students. He reported there were 60,000 school children doing 'Medicine through time'. The core of the project is digitising 4,000 new images from the Wellcome Collection, there would be a user interaction (wiki type) area of the site.

Museums need full time Professional Exhibition professionals?

I've just read Maurice Davies's, article 'Time to get professional' in Museums Journal Feb 2005 in which he suggests that many Museums exhibitions are dull. He suggests that 'perhaps we need a new breed of museum professional who is dedicated to leading the exhibition and display process'. On the face of it a strange suggestion - what are Exhibition Designers then? What are 'Content developers'? What, for that matter, are Museum Curators? So his suggestions needs some amplification or unpicking. He believes that often the role of 'exhibition editor' is often missing or fulfilled by people with too little experience, or knowledge, and that curators are often too busy with other things to fulfill this role properly. I think he is saying that modern good practice demands a multidisciplinary team, and extensive public consultation, and that this process needs to be led by people who understand both the curatorial information content, the desig

Sorrows of the Moon

A friend recommended Sorrows of the Moon by Icqbal Ahmed. to quote the Camden New Journal 'Iqbal Ahmed did not grow up in London.... But his first book – Sorrows of the Moon – has an instinctive feel for the guts of London with his observations of Brick Lane tailors and cafĂ© life in West Hampstead.' Camden New Journal

Early sketch of Stonehenge found

A 15th Century sketch of Stonehenge has been discovered in an archive in Douai, France. Early sketch of Stonehenge found | | Guardian Unlimited Arts keyword = archaeology

Hitler's reasons for War

Very interesting article in History Today by Adam Tooze which attempts to understand why Hitler went to war in 1939 and why he was prepared to go to war with the US. It has always puzzled me why he was happy to honour his treaty with Japan and take on the might of the US. The answer seems to be two fold - firstly he believed that the international jewish conspiracy was lead by the States so that to defeat the jews it was inevitable he had to take on the US - the japanese entry in the war at least gave him an ally in this epic struggle. He started the war in 1939 because he saw that the democracies were beginning to overtake Germany in war production, and that 1941/2 would be too late for Germany to take them on successfully, he gambled by going early.

Clerkenwell Tales Walk

Yesterday I gave a walk around Clerkenwell based on the Clerkenwell Tales by Peter Ackroyd. It did not entirely work I think partly because the start and end points were not conducive to the subject - as we were within Clerkenwell and at least half of the book takes place in the City. The book is a bit of a potboiler with really the only point of interest being the local colour that Ackroyd has added. I can't help thinking he was dashing off a quick book to pay for his time spent on the more academic studies. Firstly, the title was obviously chosen to resonate with the Canterbury Tales, and the people in the book are supposedly drawn from Chaucer's masterpiece. Except they are not - they may have the same job titles, friar, pardoner, nun's priest, manciple etc. but their characters are absolutely nothing to do with Chaucer's. Just one example - William Exmewe the mastermind behind the murders is not a jolly corrupt friar, he is a hard bitten Machiavelli, but vi

Stonehenge was a hospital

New work in the Prescelli Mountains has lead to new theories on the role of Stonehenge. This is where the Bluestones came from - a place where they are lots of so-called holy wells. It is suggested that the wells and the stones had health giving properties and this is the reason the bluestone circles were transported to Stonehenge. The Amesbury Archer has been shown to been a cripple and the suggestion is that Stonehenge was a famous centre of health. And so to Stonehenge the Druid's Circle, the Astronomic Computer, the Shaman's Den is now added Stonehenge as Spa. Simon Jenkins of the Guardian reports Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | Not a fortress, or a temple, or a calendar. Stonehenge was a hospital Article in the Telegraph keyword = archaeology

Medieval Sourcebook: The Questioning of John Rykener, A Male Cross-Dressing Prostitute, 1395

This is a rare court proceeding discussing sodomy and cross dressing from 1395 - suggest a very active bisexual sex life on the part of John Rykener who seemed to think priests were his best lovers. Medieval Sourcebook: The Questioning of John Rykener, A Male Cross-Dressing Prostitute, 1395

An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists - Antikythera Mechanism

The Journal Nature has reported a new study on the Antikythera Mechanism found in a Roman Wreck over 100 years ago. It is a mechanical device to compute the movements of the moon, and is now thought to be the most advanced scientific instrument until 1000 years later. What else may the ancient Greeks have invented which we have no record of? for more see or An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists - New York Times : "The mechanism, presumably used in preparing calendars for seasons of planting and harvesting and fixing religious festivals, had at least 30, possibly 37, hand-cut bronze gear-wheels, the researchers reported. An ingenious pin-and-slot device connecting two gear-wheels induced variations in the representation of lunar motions according to the Hipparchos model of the Moon’s elliptical orbit around Earth." An interesting point that was raised on a Radio 4 programme about the subject was that the word 'Antropos' from which we get Antropology, and whi

Happiness - Well Being and Value

One of my students is doing a very interesting project based on understanding 'Value' - contrasting monetary value with real 'value' Here is a quotation from Salon IFA from the Society of Antiquaries with some relevance to the value debate: Heritage Assets: Can Accounting Do Better? Considerable debate is taking place on bulletin boards and discussion forums over the issue of accounting standards for heritage ‘assets’. Salon’s editor argued that there is a presumption against realising the value of museum assets (as the outcry at the sale of a Lowry painting by Bury Council in Greater Manchester illustrates), so their true balance sheet value is zero, in which case they do not need to appear in the accounts at all and thus there is no need for an accounting standard. Fellow Kate Clark countered by saying that the accounting standard needs to include better reporting of the costs of holding assets and of providing the services that flow from the asset in terms

'Heritage Counts' published by English Heritage

English Heritage published its annual audit of the historic environment on 15 November, reports SALON 153 - the Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter 27 November 2006. ‘Communities and Heritage’ is the theme for the report. Salon IFA reports: 'Research commissioned for the report revealed the ‘magnificent legacy’ of historic buildings now threatened with neglect, demolition, privatisation or redevelopment ─ town halls, fire stations, county court buildings, libraries, schools and public baths ─ unless imaginative new uses could be found to keep them in community use. ‘Public needs have changed dramatically,’ said our Fellow Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, launching the report, adding that a flood of public buildings would fall out of use in the next fifteen years: ‘These buildings have an important value locally that goes far beyond their original uses,’ he said. ‘They endow a sense of distinctiveness on a place as well as helping to shape

The New 10 Ages of Prehistory

SALON 153 - the Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter 27 November 2006 reports that Antiquity has made an attempt to replace the old three-age system, originally invented for the Danish National Museum collections in the nineteenth century. Antiquity's Editor - the Sutton Hoo excavator, Martin Carver proposes 'integrated world prehistory' back to 26,000 BC. Salon IFA reports that 'he new scheme is suggested by a key paper on radiocarbon dating published in Antiquity by Christopher Bronk Ramsey of the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford, and colleagues from the universities of Sheffield, Reading, Belfast and Leiden.' Here are Antiquity’s ten periods 1. Before 24,000 BC: hunter-gatherers in the Sahara; use of beads for ornament in Australia; horse and rhino images on the Margot Cave, France 2. Twenty-fourth to thirteenth millennia BC: earliest pottery in east Asia; male and female hand stencils in ca

The Art Fund - Policy and Campaigns

According to the Art Fund Britain is falling behind in 'race to buy works of art' because our Galleries do not have enough of money for new acquisitions. The Art Fund - Policy and Campaigns The Tate spent £4.8m National Gallery £6,3m and the British Museum only £700,000. much less than our international competitors.

Creative Journals

I have just read 'How to make a Journal of Your Life' by D. Price. 10 Speed Press, California. Its a slight book but does help encourage the use of creative journals - I'm interested because we encourage our students to do learning logs and I have been very impressed by how they can help reflection.

Fund-Raising Course for the Creative Industries

I attended a fund raising course at City University, which took place over 3 afternoons over 3 weeks. It was free (funded by Europe), designed for the Creative Industries. It is running again in January over 3 Friday afternoons - a very good intro and a good refresher for those of have yet to earn their Lottery Millions!

Re: CRB checks for Museums

The subject of Child Protection Policies came up at a Fund Raising training event I have been on at City University. It seems Lambeth expects organisations dealing with children to have them, and a representative from the 'Big Lottery Fund'  also suggested she would expect anyone applying for Awards for All for a children's project would expect an organisation to have a Child Protection Policy.   However, we also discussed projects where school children engage with senior citizens and no one would suggest all the old folk should be CRB'd before being allowed to talk to kids.   So, I would hope the Museum community can be sensible about it.  From our point of view - unless I hear that CRB's are de rigour for all staff and volunteers in Museums -  I think we are going to write a Child Protection Policy - probably as outlined in my previous post, and so establish policies that staff and volunteers never put themselves in a situation where they are alone with

Strategic Framework Analysis

One of the student project groups at CPfNE at Central Saint Martin's referred to Strategic Frame Analysis. This is, surprisingly a trade marked system but which essential proposes analyzing the 'frames' within which the public think/operate/perceive, once these frames have been identified and analysed then the analylist can work out how to change the frame. At example, might be Al Quaidi, their frame is one of Jihad, and heroic self-sacrifice, with a belief that Islam has been oppressed by the West, and that those not of the Umma are unclean and therefore not that important if slaughtered. Having understood this frame we can then work out how best to influence it - maybe we would think that of the aspects of the frame the lack of care for the welfare of the unclean might be the way to influence them for the benefit of mankind. Maybe we might concentrate on the 'frame' based around the idea of the brotherhood of the 'people of the book' - Moslems, Christia

SketchUp - Tutorials

Nick at Central St Martin's mentioned that he has installed Sketchup, a free 3D graphics programme, and Google Earth on all the Macs. He told me Sketchup is available on PC and Mac. So I had a look at it - and ran a couple video tutorials - very simply, and looks quite good if you want a free 3D sketching programme. SketchUp - Tutorials

Review of policies for Old Operating Theatre Museum

Today I reviewed the Museum's progress by looking at the Business Plan for 2006/7 and reviewed our aims document and the acquisitions policy . We have done surprisingly well - achieving many of our objectives already despite the fact that we had to close the museum ofr 6 months earlier in the year, and prepare an alternative home. We need to make progress on the following: 1.Increase frequency of staff meetings 2.We need to develop fund-raising skills 3.Improve health and safety skills and monitoring 4.Achieve greater recognition that the Museum is unique and of international importance 5.Develop relevance to modern health agendas 6.Regularly survey our visitors 7.Progress development plan and improve facilities and access 8.Review arrangements with CHR and reporting to Trustees

First-century Roman shipwreck stuffed with Amphorae found in Turkey

Archaeologists have found a large wreck near the Coast full of Fish Sauce Amphorae - the article includes image of the stored amphorae of which there were 1,500. This is the largest wreck found on the Mediterranean Coast. Spanish researchers delighted with first-century Roman shipwreck - Turkish Daily News Nov 15, 2006 Thanks to Becky Wallover for the the information. Keyword = archaeology

The Old Operating Theatre Museum RSS Feed improved

I have used the free Cut n' Paste JavaScript RSS Feed to make it easy to use the Old Operating Theatre Museum's RSS feed. If you paste the code in rss feed instructions.htm into your web site, our feed will automatically appear! To see an example click here:

Listed Building Review - Abolition of Grade 2*?

Apparently English Heritage are proposing to change the listing system. It is rumoured that Grade 2* is to be abolished and it is thought all grade 2* will be pushed up to Grade 1, but this is not certain. This will probably be a good thing for the Old Operating Theatre Museum, which is currently in a Grade 2* building but, because of its uniqueness should be Grade 1. The following is a link to a document on revision of listing although making no reference to abolition of Grade 2*

18th Century Childcare and William Cadogan

History Today (Dec 2006) had an interesting article on childcare in the 18th Century. Link to it here William Cadogan wrote 'An Essay upon Nursing and the Management of Children' in 1748. It was in advance of Rousseau's modern theories. He suggested babies should be breast fed from birth preferably by the mother and he denied that this might damage the shape of the breast. He believed that children should not be feed on demand and should be fed simple food, dressed in light clothing and played with in a robust way with lots of tumbles and tossing. He was against swaddling and believed the baby's arms should be left free. He was in favour of a scientific approach and therefore decried traditional female approaches to childbirth. Otherwise his ideas were modern and progressive. keyword= medical history

Fundraising for Creative Practice

On Fridays I have been attending a fund-raising course for the creative industries run by City University and given by Anne Engel. The highlight of the afternoon was a talk from a group called Campbell Works - they are based in Hackney, London and run a series of interesting projects from their Gallery. Their work was very participatory and imaginative. They illustrated the advice we had been given that grant projects can be helped by creating useful partnerships. For example, one of their projects was for local children which used an old car engine for art projects and collaborated with local mechanics. Campbell Works art gallery It was interesting to hear that they had set up as a Community Interest Company - a new form of Ltd Company set up for organisations that are working in the public interest but not quite charities. Other tips were to divide projects up into segments and try and get grants for individuals parts of the project. They suggested dividing overheads betwee

New Arsenal FC Museum Opens At The Emirates Stadium

Arsenal have launched their new Museum in the new Emirates Stadium, Islington, London. New Arsenal FC Museum Opens At The Emirates Stadium - 24 Hour Museum - official guide to UK museums, galleries, exhibitions and heritage

British Archaeological Awards

British Archaeology Awards have been announced. British Archaeological Awards : Britarch web site"

The Museum of London - new funding arrangements

the government has transferred its interest in the Museum of London to the GLA - personally I suggested they revert to the former method when the funding was divided between government, GLC and the City, My fear is that the GLA will cut expenditure in due course. Department for Culture Media and Sport - Culture secretary Tessa Jowell announces plans for the future sponsorship of the Museum of London

London for free

Free self-guided London Walks London for free

Free London Walks for your iPod or MP3 Player

Found an interesting site that offers free walks around London for your ipod or MP£ player. Free London Walks for your iPod or MP3 Player

Aluna: World's First Tidal Powered Moon Clock

This is a great scheme to create a vast installation on the Thames - a tidal powered lunar clock. Visit the site and give them your support. Aluna: World's First Tidal Powered Moon Clock

London Museums and the Olympics

The MLA Partnership has published a prospectus for the contribution of museums, libraries and archives to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Setting the Pace� I suggested to the London Museums Group committee meeting that we should set up systems to help Museums extend the number of languages they interpret the collections with. Secondly, museums should get in contact with local communities and set up what might be called 'language hubs' for welcoming people from appropriate parts of the world

Keats and the history of Cycling

I cycled to Keats House Museum in Hampstead, London today for a meeting and spoke to one of the staff who was kind enough to alert me to Keats' reference to a Velocepede. He wrote 3 March 1819: 'The nothing of the day is a machine called the Velocepede - it is a wheel-carriage to ride cock horse upon, sitting astride and pushing it along with the toes, a rudder wheel in hand. They will go seven miles an hour, a handsome gelding will come to eight guineas, however they will soon be cheaper, unless the army takes to them' The note reports that it was invented by Count Drax in Baden, introduced to Britain by a tradesman in Long Acre, 1819 and 'put down' by the Magistrates of Police because of the crowded state of the metropolis.

HLF new plans for museum collections

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced £3 million to be allocated in 2007─8 to support acquisitions, the development of curatorial skills, research and outreach activity. Grants will be from £50,000 up to a maximum of £200,000. It is envisaged that some twenty projects around the UK will be funded through this initiative. Salon IFA reported: 'The funding will encourage individual museums and galleries, or small consortia, such as local museums and galleries or those with a shared collecting interest, to apply for support to develop their collections'. The scheme will be launched in April 07

National Trust | News | Getting the best from amazing museums

The National Trust has just released a new policy in its role as one of the major museum providers. National Trust | News | Getting the best from amazing museums

Selling the Family Silver - Bury sells a Lowry

Simon Jenkins discusses the sale of a Lowry to support the revenue funding of Bury Council and places it directly in the debate about the North/South divide rather than highlighing the consequences of selling precious items to plug a temporary gap in funding. Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | The disgrace is not that this Lowry is being sold but the reason why

Sevsco - silver scandal at Bonhams

Lord Renfrew's letter to the Times records yet another arguably 'scandalous' auction by a leading UK auction house - this time Bonham's. Links Lord Renfrew's Letter - Comment - Times Online More information with image The legal view keywords = archaeology, museums

Age of Stonehenge illuminated at excavations at Durrington Walls

Salon, IFA reports on discoveries at Durrington Wells which is a remarkable henge close to Stonehenge. The henge has always been remarkable on account of the large timber round houses found inside the circle. Now, the magazine, 'British Archaeology' reports that the Stonehenge Riverside Project has uncovered nine rare well-preserved houses in excavations. 2 of the houses are inside the Durrington Walls henge and surrounded by ditches, banks and palisades. These houses have 'trapezoidal chalk plaster floors up to 6 metres square, with central hearths'. Archaeologists suggest that the nearest parallels are in Orkney. Grooves in the plaster floors are interpreted as footings for wooden furniture similar to the stone furnishings of houses at Skara Brae. Both sites are associated with Grooved Ware pottery. Large middens of pig bones have been found as well as a 20m. wide avenue (guly and external bank) aligned to the midsummer sunset. It may have formed a processi

Medical Heritage of Guys

I created first draft of proposal for a medical heritage project in the St Thomas/Guys area and posted to James Buxton, chaplain of Guys Hospital. The idea is that the area is a pioneer of urban health care - London's second oldest hospital and with a remarkable set of medical heritage sites, and that this should be celebrated with a project. Tour of the heritage area keyword = medhist

Disability histories - ideas for an exhibition

Kate-Louise Smith emailed asking about the Museum's collection relating to disability. I replied that as we deal with amputations we do have a strong connection with disability. However we do not have a large collection and so (apart from the tools that help make people disabled!) we only have a pair of crutches, a couple of interesting hearing aids and some prints and drawings which may be relevant. But it would be a really interesting project - a temporary/travelling exhibition on wheelchairs and crutches and hearing aids and glasses and false teeth, eyepatches, false eyes, prostheses of various kinds, strait jackets etc. It would be visually quite something. Kate is responsible for the web site which describes where Londoners of many cultural groups can find their histories in the capital. Key words = museums medhist

History Matters Campaign

I signed up to the History Matters campaign because, although 'History is bunk' and people learn the wrong lessons from it, it can really give an insight into how the world works. About the campaign

CHR web site updated - publishing blogs

I have spent some time improving the look and the spelling of the CHR/And Did Those Feet web site. Firstly, a little bit of a redesign - firstly so it is more accessible with no fixed sized tables, secondly, with a new colour scheme - going from blue to red and reorganistion so looks better. On the design side I used as my inspiration the site at The most interesting improvement though is that I have used Feed Digest to publish my blog onto my web site thus adding content without much effort. I have used a keyword search for different pages so that only archaeology is mentioned on the archaeology page, museums on the museum page etc. I now have feeds from my blog, my furl and from the 24 hour museum. My next development is to see if I can publish using php pages because in this way the blog content gets indexed via google and will help market the site. Have a look here, as you will find interesting items on archaeology, museums and London.

The Enigma of the Dark Earth

Dark Earth is a horizon often as much as 2 - 3 ft thick which covers Roman remains in London and other Roman Cities. The strata (Archaeology) underlying the dark earth is often of a date varying from the 2nd to the 5th Century, and the strata overlying is often, in the city of London, 9th Century. The Dark Earth has little evidence of any structural activity in it or even of horizons, although tip lines are sometimes seen. The material is not particularly organic, it has bits of brick and tile in it. It probably represents vacant lots on the edge of urban centres and in London is evidence of the decline of Londinium's population. However, some people, the minority I believe, think it is reworked urban stratigraphy, maybe timber and earth floors reworked by worm action. They would argue that Cemetaries around London do not show a population decline compared with early London. A bibliography on the subject was compiled by Pete Clark and circulated on Britarch on th

London Museums Strategy

Went to meeting launching the London Museum Strategy today in City Hall. Meeting was opened by (Lord) ChrisSmith,and is the culmination of a long series of meetings and hard work. As a meeting of the London Museums Group, the London Museums strategy group and the Hub Advisory committee I felt I'd made my own contribution. Although BenTravers and Fiona Davison are the ones who hav e really done the hard work.-- Sent from my Treo

Narrative Environments new year first project

Today saw the projects put together by the new first year - in which they have to created a piece on one of their new colleagues. Very many very creative ideas, for example one piece was a large vertical slab of clay with peanuts stuck in it - when sliced open it contained rhubarb, artichoke and a kiwi fruit - all representative of the other person. Another was a person represented by a colour swatch.

'Myths of British ancestry' we are all Basques

Great article in Prospect Magazine about the ancestry of the British - it sums up all the Genetic studies that have been coming to contradictory conclusions over the last few years but promising to transform archaeology as we know it. To summarize: 75% of our blood-line comes from Hunter-Gathers who probably spread into Britain by the Atlantic route from Spain - our closest relations are the Basques. The Basque language is non-indo European and is probably the descendant of the language spoken by the indigenous inhabitants of Europe. Another wave of immigrants came over in the Neolithic. The Celts had their origin in West and SW Europe - not at all in La Tene or the Hallstatt so-called homeland - which is the origin of the art style but not the people. The mistake derives from Herodutus who said the Celts came from the Danube - Herodutus thought the Danube was near the Pyrenees! The Celtic homelands are therefore Iberia, France and the British Isles - there are few Celtic place

Updated London's history on Wikipedia

I revised the entry on Wikipedia which has grown a little 'baggy' with people added stuff that was sort of correct but not really, and adding out of date information. Its full of Anglos and Saxons and very dated really The Saxon portion has been improved with reference to Wessex, Mercia etc but still not very good.

Hesiod - early calendars

Hesiod in his Works and Days gives a good idea of a non numerical calendar in his 'Works and Days.   Here is the part of the poem dealing with the agricultural year - note the variety of calendrical indicators he uses - stars, birds, sun, heat, rain, frosts, winds, sprouting, counting days off etc. Feed keyword = archaeology    Hesiod lived in the 8th century BC, about the same time as Homer   Kevin  Flude       Hesiod: Works And Days Translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White   When the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, are rising (10), begin your harvest, and your ploughing when they are going to set (11). Forty nights and days they are hidden and appear again as the year moves round, when first you sharpen your sickle. This is the law of the plains, and of those who live near the sea, and who inhabit rich country, the glens and dingles far from the tossing sea, -- strip to sow and strip to plough and strip to reap, if yo

JOURNEY OF MANKIND - The Peopling of the World

Excellent demonstration of the spread across the globe of Homo Sapien JOURNEY OF MANKIND - The Peopling of the World . Archaeology Feed

Covent Garden's Theatre Museum to Close

Apparently the V&A and the Royal Opera have decided they cannot afford to run the Theatre Museum, London and are planning to close it. Terrible news for Museums in London.

Middlesex Guildhall the new Supreme Court

The Government plans to turn the Middlesex Guildhall, London currently a court, into the new HQ of the Supreme Court. The Guildhall is in Westminster Square. This will involve damaging the beautiful interiors, campaigners complain.

We are all Celts Now!

According to Bryan Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at Oxford University most people in Britain are decended from peoples often referred to as Celts. Celts are not a separate race living in the West of Britain and Ireland but are the ancestor of most of us. Sykes is publishing a book, called 'The Blood of the Isles ‘Exploring the genetic roots of our tribal history’. According to Salon IFA, the archaeology e-newsletter, he 'draws on the work of The Oxford Genetic Atlas Project which, with funding from the Wellcome Trust, has taken and analysed blood and saliva samples from 10,000 volunteers in order to settle scientifically questions about migration and interbreeding in these islands ..... all but a tiny percentage of the volunteers in his study were originally descended from one of six ‘clans’ who arrived in the UK in several waves of immigration prior to the Norman conquest. ' Salon IFa quotes Sykes ‘about 6,000 years ago Iberians developed ocean-going boats that e

Restoration by Edward Bond at the Hackney empire

Edward Bond may be a colossus of British Theatre but this is a play to be avoided by anyone but a theatre historian. The only redeeming feature of the play, as performed at the Hackney Empire, is the earnest hard work of the cast and the cleverness of some of Lord Are's witticisms. The play uses the form of (pastiche?) a Restoration play for what one assumes the author thought would be a coruscating attack on the English class system. But is just shows the patronizing views of the 1980's leftwing. The innocent victim of the upper class is portrayed as simple to the extreme, Lord Are's has no redeeming features, Mr Hardache a stereotypical northern businessman, Lord Are's mother is a cartoon character and the rest of the characters are neither memorable nor sympathetic. The working class apparently have the option of crime or slavery. The play might have been tolerable but for the tuneless warbling of awful songs and their terrible lyrics. The actors tried very

Sir Nicholas Crispe and the Slave Trade

the Museum of London Archaeology service has recently done excavations on the Jacobean House of Sir Nicholas Crispe. His house was used for the manufacture of glass beads which he used in his extensive slave trading with Africa. The house was then used by General Fairfax and finally as a Sugar refinery. The Crispe Family and the African Trade in the Seventeenth Century R. Porter Journal of African History, Vol. 9, No. 1 (1968), pp. 57-77 View Article Abstract

Holbein's Lady with a Squirrel named!

Holbein's Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling - in the National Gallery has been named! She is thought to be Anne Lovell - the squirel refers to their coat of arms and the Starling may be a rhymning pun on East Harling, norfolk where she came from. Museums feed.

Mesolithic Round house found

A mesolithic round house - exactly like Bronze Age round houses has been found in East Lothian. the floor was full of thousands of struck flints and hazel nut shells. Radio Carbon dates the building 7th-8th millenia BC one of the oldest houses in Britain. Gooder, J W 'Excavation of a Mesolithic house at East Barns, East Lothian, Scotland: an interim view', in Warrington, C (eds) The Mesolithic of the North Sea Basin. Oxbow Books. Archaeology feed.

Beaker Folk - invasion of the Round Heads?

The discovery of later neolithic early bronze age pots of a distinctive nature, called Beakers combined with a change from long headed brains to round headed heads has long fed speculation that the Beakers represented an influx (invasion?) of new people into Britain. The idea fell out of favour in Archaeology as in our post-colonial times archaeologists hate to suggest any change takes place through invasion but recently the use of Isotope analysis on teeth has shown, for instance, that the so called Amesbury Archer was from somewhere near Switzerland and that 3 of the Boscombe Down Bowmen were from Wales or North West France. So a group have set up a Beaker People Project and Mike Parker Pearson has written a piece about it in 'The Archaeologist' Autumn 2006. Initial findings show no isotope differences in the diets of beaker and non beaker burials, although the Beaker folk had less pits and scratches on their teeth! The difference between the long and round head takes

Interviewed on Radio Nottingham

I was on Radio Nottingham today talking about the history of medicine - surgery before anaesthesia in particular. The following is an interesting piece on Joseph Priestley, friend of Benjamin Franklin, and scientific pioneer. Joseph Priestley

Social Bookmarking Tools (I): A General Review

Useful article summarising social bookmarking tools. Social Bookmarking Tools (I): A General Review

Walter Tull - first Black football player

'East End Life' had an interesting article on Walter Tull - who played for Clapton Orient, Tottenham Hotspur, and Northampton town - the first outfield player who was also black, He was brought up in an Orphanage in Bethnal Green, London. He rose to be an officer in the Army and died at the second battle of the Somme in 1918 Walter Tull His brother, Edward became a dentist.

Britons only 12,000 years old

Professor Chris Stringer in Daily Telegraph his forthcoming book Homo Britannicus , suggests that Britain has only been continously occupied for 12,000. There were 7 successive occupations of Britain by genus Home since 700,000 years ago but they all fizzled out before the current attempt. For further information click here Archaeology feed

Prasutagus and the Big Fish - Evidence from Celtic Coins

Current Archaeology (Issue 205) has an interesting article by Chris Rudd showing how useful coins continue to be re the dynasties in power before the Roman period. One of the examples he gives is from the reexamination of silver coins found at Joist Fen in Suffolk over 40 years ago. Numismatists have reconstructed the name Esuprastus or Esu Prasto from the inscription which reads 'SVB Ri Prasto' and 'Esico Fecit' - the later part meaing Esico made it. It is thought that Esuprastus is the native version of the name King Prasutagus - the husband of the famous Queen Boudicca. The coins are typical Celtic design showing a a head on one face with a horse on the other - following the designs on coins of Philip of Macedon. He also refers to one Ale Scavo - the latter part of the name suggesting a Roman connection from Scaevola - left handed. Rudd suggests he was succeeded by Esu Prasto, possibly after the rebellion of 47AD, suggesting Prasutagus was put in place by the

Gauls and Britons - new inscription

Current Archaeology (issue 205) has an interesting piece on qn inscription found at Vindolanda. It was found in the SW corner of the fort and the inscription read CIVES GALLI DE GALLIA CONCORDES QVE BRITANNI which they translate as: "The troops from Gaul dedicate this statue to the goddess Gallia, with the full support of the British-born troops". The interesting implications are firstly that there are Gauls still on the frontier and secondly that Britons was an accepted term for those from Britain - i.e. presumably some sense of unity within the province? They also found a very priapic statue of Priapus. To find out more visit the Vindolanda site and see the Excavation News page

Ideas to improve furl

I find furl ( invaluable. However, couple of things I would help improve it. I use it as partly bookmark, and partly information database, partly blog and partly bibliographic tool, and partly to track what I do. I can see furl falling behind as other techologies develop. So just a few ideas on how it might develop. 1. develop the bibliographic bits of it so it can also be used for books and articles 2. Ineeds a graphic overhaul - doesn't look as good as flickr, etc. 3. Would be good to be able to customise one's view, to enable it to be part of one's own web site. 4. Need to develop the blog aspect - I currently have blog and furl while I would rather just have furl 5. One problem is that I cannot use furl to help drive content to my web site or even to my furl archive - my furl archive only appears in a google search in an unreadable xml rss format. One of the things I offer is my expertise in the sites I visit - would be good if furl was

Re materia medica

I have photographed the materia medica cases we received from the Monica Britton Collection when they disbanded their history of medicine collection. These can be seen on my flickr site at I think they are a great acquisitions by the Museum as they represent an opportunity for improving understanding of what materia medica meant in the past. There are also formidable obstacles to their use. Firstly, we need to identify the materia medica. Secondly, how do we display them? They have so many drawers! and they are best seen close up and with information. Maybe we could begin by organising a lecture on materia medica with the new objects being shown to the public.

Replica Pottery Trinity Court

Finally traced somewhere who can make replica Albarelli. trintiycourt home

Human DNA tree memorial

Very interesting idea. Take someone's DNA splice it with a tree seed, and grow the tree as a memorial. I wish I had thought of it. Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Firm plans human DNA tree memorial

Setting up a virtual learning environment

Central Saint Martin's Action Research As part of my Certificate in Higher Education I am undertaking an ' Action Research' project. The aim is to find useful web tools to help students record project research. The first is Furl: This is essentially a super book mark tool - it allows users and groups to record all the web sites they visit simply by pressing a button on the web browser. It is better than a book mark as you can categorise each web page you furl, and you can access it from any computer. Also you can use the bookmarks very easily on web pages, and you can export the web url's as references for academic reports. Finally furl saves a copy of the page you furl - so even if the page is deleted, you still have a copy of it making it very valuable for academic work. My archive can be see at: Try filtering by topic to see how it works. If you look at And look

Family motto - death to the oppressor!

Our family motto is (apparently) Mors ad inimicus [death to the oppressor] . although it seems to have been stolen with the coat of arms from the legitimate owners who were I think the Kynastons.

Flude in literature

I have just found references to use of the word 'Flude' in medieval and later literature - both are in the context of Noah's Flood, 'The good gossippe souge The flude comes flittinge in full faste, On everye syde that spreades full farre; For feare of drowninge I am agaste; Good gossippes, lett us drawe here, And lett us drinke or [ere] we departe, For ofte tymes we have done see. For att a draughte thou drinkes a quarte, A ND soe will I doe or I gee. Heare is a pottill full of malmsine, good and stronge; Itt will rejoice Louth hearte and tonge; Though Noye thinke us never so longe, Heare we will drinke alike.' For first the sun in hys uprising obscurate Shall be, and passĂ© the waters of Noa’s flude, On erth which were a hundred days continueate And fifty, away or all thys waters yode, Ryght so on our waters, as wise men understode, Shall pass: that thou, with David, may say Abierunt in sicco flumina, etc (63). From Mary Anne Atwood Herme

Surname Finder

Use this tool to map distributions of British surnames. [object HTMLImageElement] Mike Catling for Salon IFA wrote: The database reveals that many British surnames names can be mapped to specific places in the world from which they have spread out through the globe. Searching on the name ‘Catling’ for example, reveals that almost all of the people of that name were living in the Peterborough area in 1881 (this fits with family tradition that, until my father made the break, generations of Catlings had all worked in the brickfields of Whittlesey, three miles east of Peterborough). By 2006, Catlings were dispersed all round England, and were also to be found living in Auckland, New Jersey and the Australian Capital Territory. Clearly the database is more useful to people with a distinctive surname, though even a relatively common name such as Owen had a very precise geographic origin that is still traceable as recently as 1881 (Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey). The developers of the dat