AGM and Spring London Archaeology Forum

CBA London held its AGM on Monday 19th May, along with the Spring London Archaeology Forum.  We had a full complement of talks, on a range of fascinating subjects.

Neil Hawkins (PCA) – Community Archaeology at Baitul Aziz Mosque, Dickens Square

Neil reported on the results and organisation of the excavations at Baitul Aziz Mosque.  The Mosque, founded in 1999, was in need of expansion, due to its growing congregation.  An archaeological condition was placed on the works due to high archaeological potential for Roman burials and sites in the area.   With the works being funded by donations from the Mosque community, PCA offered to offset some of the cost of the excavation by working with a team of volunteers selected by the Mosque.  The excavation uncovered significant Roman remains, included one of only three known timber coffin bases.  Some of the excavation results were disseminated to the Mosque and local communities via an Open Day at the Mosque.  News from the site was also shared more widely via the PCA blog and a Nottingham based Bangladeshi radio station interview.

If you’re interested in finding more about this project and the results of the excavation, this I covered in Vol.13 No.12/Spring 2014 issue of London Archaeologist.

Roy Stephenson (Museum of London) – World War I at the Museum of London

Roy shared some of the stories which the Museum will be looking at over the next four years in order to commemorate World War I.  The Museum needs to concentrate on the stories which it is in a unique position to tell.  At present there is an exhibition of the photographs of Christina Broom in the Museum foyer.  Her images document the early 20th Century in London, including the Suffrage Movement, leisure pursuits such as horse racing and the boat race.  Biographies of Londoners provide human interest stories such as Maurice Reed, a London Museum employee; John Parr, the first casualty of World War I; or James Ketteridge, who died earlier in WWI, but was shot by accident!  Archaeologically, the physical remains above ground such as drill halls and those below ground such as the trench systems of the Hand Grenade Training School on Clapham Common require further research and recording.  The Museum are interested in exploring these stories and others, there will be opportunities to support this work.

Don Cooper (CBA London) – Local Societies and Planning

Don reported that the CBA London paper on this subject had had a long gestation, but was now available.  He suggested that there are a range of things that Local Societies can do, including:

  • Getting involved in the revision of Five Year Plans in their local areas, to ensure that archaeological priority areas/areas of archaeological significance are identified and highlighted to planners in order to inform their decisions.
  • Signing up for planning alerts so that societies are informed of forthcoming developments, can monitor areas of interest and respond in a timely fashion.
  • Obtain a license from English Heritage to access, edit and maintain the GLHER.
  • Chris Constable also notified CBA London that local societies can request membership of their local conservation area advisory groups.

Don suggested that we need to go further than this advice, given that suburban development will pose an even greater threat to archaeology in the coming years.  The LAF were notified of a training session to be held by LAMAS later this year.

Rose Hooker – The World War I camp at Felday

Rose represented the author of the report on this fascinating Iron Age enclosure with a WWI Prisoner of War camp constructed inside it.  The remains of the camp were interpreted as representing three main areas, for ablutions, cooking and the accommodation blocks.  Carbide deposits were found indicating the used of floodlights.  Assistance in interpreting the remains was gained through the memories of Beattie Ede, a local resident, who drew a plan of the camp and through documentary and photographic evidence.  The camp was decommissioned in 1919 and much of the equipment and even the huts were sold on.  The report is now available, you can access a short report here.

Kim Stabler (Stabler Heritage) – The Rose Revealed.

Kim presented a short history of the Rose Playhouse and plans for the future. The Rose is one of only a few known Tudor/Elizabethan playhouses as they were a phenomenon constrained to a period of only 30-40 years.  The Rose is closely associated with Shakespeare and Marlowe, whose respective plays Titus Andronicus and Doctor Faustus were known to have been performed there.  The Henslowe diaries provide unique insights into the running of the theatre, and in particular its phase of rebuilding.  The Rose is an extraordinary survival, the few contemporary playhouses found archaeologically do not have remains to match the Rose.  All these factors are unique to the Rose and will play part of the planned redisplay and use of the Rose.  In order to better understand the archaeology and to ensure that the conservation of the whole site is possible, the final third of the site will be excavated.  The whole site will then be subject to a new sealed conservation regime, which is a significant revision on the existing one.  The access to the site will be improved, along with new interpretation.  The new conservation will enable the site to be used as a playhouse.  It is hoped that the Rose Theatre will become a sustainable attraction, along with its aims of public education and conservation of the archaeological site.  The site needs volunteers and also financial assistance in raising the funds needed to match their second round HLF grant application.  You can find out more here.