Saxon Shore: Heritage Lecture

Professor David Gill at 2014 UCS Heritage Lecture © Caroline Gill

Professor David Gill at 2014 UCS Heritage Lecture
© Caroline Gill

I was greatly encouraged by the packed lecture theatre for the first of two UCS Heritage Lectures for the 2014 Ipswich Heritage Fortnight. We explored the development of the ‘Saxon Shore’ fort system and members of the audience shared their knowledge of what was visible of Walton Castle (near Felixstowe) at very low tides. We also considered how a number of the ‘Saxon Shore’ forts (Burgh Castle, Caister-on-Sea, Bradwell, Reculver, Richborough and possibly Walton Castle) were reused in the 7th century as monastic sites.

The lecture concluded with a suggestion that a Late Roman / Anglo-Saxon trail could be developed from Brancaster to the Blackwater, taking in a number of key sites including North Elmham, Bury St Edmunds, West Stow, Burgh Castle, Sutton Hoo, and Iken.

Back on Track: Heritage Lecture

Dr Geraint Coles will be lecturing on the Back on Track Project: The Heritage of Railways in East Anglia for the the Ipswich Heritage Fortnight lectures. Wednesdayy 24 Spetember, 4.30 pm in the UCS Ipswich Waterfront Building. All welcome.

For an abstract a further details see here.

Ministry of Works: Audley End

Audley End

Audley End (1955)

We tend to think of the formal ‘blue’ Ministry of Works guidebooks. But the one for Audley End in Essex (London: HMSO, 1955; 1 shilling) is not only green but has a line drawing on the cover. It was written by B. H. St. J. O’Neil (formerly Chief Inspector of ancient Monuments), R.J.B. Walker (Curator of Pictures, Ministry of Works) and F.J.B. Watson (Assistant Director, Wallace Collection).

The guide runs over 22 pages and there are plans (p. 10-11) and black and white photographs:

  • History (3-9) [No mention is made of the wartime role of the house.]
  • Description (12-22)

Chocolate Heritage and Keynsham Roman Villa

Keynsham Roman Villa (n.d.)

Keynsham Roman Villa (n.d.)

One of the most unusual settings for a site is the Roman villa at Kensham that was found during the construction of the Somerdale chocolate factory for J. S. Fry and Sons (between Bath and Bristol). The excavations were conducted by Dr Arthur Bulleid and Father Ethelbert Hoare from 1922 to 1924.

J.S. Fry & Sons (“Cocoa and Chocolate Manufacturers”) issued an 8 page booklet for the remains and the finds (that were housed in the on-site museum). The booklet contained a plan of the villa as well as a number of illustrations. The booklet is undated but I suspect mid-1970s.

Heritage Fortnight Lecture: The Saxon Shore

Othona / Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex © David Gill

Othona / Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex © David Gill

East Anglia is dominated by a series of Late Roman fortresses around its coast: from Brancaster on the north Norfolk coast, to Bradwell-on-Sea on the mudflats of Essex. These forts, known as ‘The Saxon Shore‘, continued round the coast of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. Several of them became sites of Christian foundations during the 7th century: Burgh Castle, (possibly) Walton Castle (near Felixstowe), and Reculver. 

Saxon Shore lecture (2014)

Saxon Shore lecture (2014)

The lecture for the Ipswich Heritage Fortnight (2014) will explore some of the issues on this transformation from Late Roman Britannia to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia. It will also suggest the way that this important part of East Anglia’s history could form part of a visitor trail.

Guides to Lullingstone Roman Villa

Chi-Rho from Lullingstone Roman Villa (now in the British Museum)

Chi-Rho from Lullingstone Roman Villa (now in the British Museum)

Lullingstone Roman Villa was excavated by Lt.-Col. G.W. Meates from 1949 to 1961 (see English Heritage for further details). Some of the finds were placed in the British Museum, and the site was placed in the care of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works.

Lullingstone (1969)

Lullingstone (1969)

Meates wrote a short paper paper guide for MPBW (HMSO 1958; reprinted, 1969; price 6 d). This consisted of 12 pages with a double-page plan in the centre (pp. 6-7) showing the chronological development of the villa. The main sections were:

  • Introduction 
  • History and General Introduction
  • The Christian Establishment
  • The Mosaic Floors
  • The Bathing Establishment
  • The Finds

Lullingstone (1972)

Lullingstone (1972)

A booklet, also by Meates, appeared in 1963. My DOE 1972 reprint of the 1963 version uses an g cover (rather than the usual blue). Cost: 20 p. The book is fully illustrated, with colour for the wall-paintings and the mosaics (pp. 13-14, 31-32). The Alan Sorrell reconstruction is reproduced in black-and-white in the centre. The plan folds out of the card cover.

The main sections (over 44 pages) are:

  • History and Description
  • Period I. The First Century AD
  • Period II. The Second Century AD
    • The Circular Temple
    • The Bathing Establishment
    • The Cult Rooms
    • The Kitchens
  • Period III. The Third Century AD
    • The Granary
  • Period IV. The Fourth Century AD.
    • The Mosaic Floors
    • The Christian Chapel
  • The Finds
    • Marble Portrait Busts
    • Painted Wall Plaster
    • Coins
    • Objects of Bronze, Bone and glass
    • Objects of Iron
    • Pottery
    • Skeletal Remains

The guide was using reconstructions, for example the Deep Room (p. 30) or the Ante-Chamber (p. 33), to help the visitor to visualise the space. Meates also included images of the excavations. One of the most striking includes the Roman portraits from the Deep Room (p. 38). It is also worth comparing the image of the fragmentary chi-rho wall-painting as it is reproduced in the book with the form it takes in the British Museum (and see online).