Exploring Philippi



The Archaeological Receipts Fund of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture has produced a valuable series of guides for the range of sites in public ownership. (See, for example, the guide to the Laurion in Attica.) The guide to the Roman colony of Phlippi in Macedonia is by Ch. Koukouli-Chrysanthanki and Ch. Bakirtzis. The guide, which is illustrated throughout in colour, has three main sections: a history of the site from the prehistoric settlement into Late Antiquity; a guided tour (‘promenade’) taking in the walls, the acropolis, the theatre, and the forum area; the battle of Philippi in 42 BC; other literary texts; and finally the finds.

Attention is drawn to the appearance of the colony in the Acts of Apostles and its association with early Christianity.

The guide itself includes relevant bibliography that allows the reader to explore further.

Castell Caernarfon: Kyffin Williams and a variation in red

Caernarvon Castle


Dr John R. Kenyon has drawn my attention to a variation in the Kyffin Williams designed cover for Castell Caernarfon. The original 1961 copy was in brown. Kenyon has a short note on the 1963 ‘red’ edition by Alan Phillips (John R. Kenyon, “Caernarfon Castle Guidebook, 1963″, Castle Studies Group Bulletin April 2015, p. 16). My copy, like Kenyon’s, has a small printed note inside date October 1963 stating that “Mr. Kyffin Williams is responsible … for the cover design of this booklet. He is not, however, responsible for the colour”.

The books are very similar but in the back card cover showing ‘Castles in North Wales’ it adds ‘Maintained by the Ministry of Works’ (1961) and ‘Maintained by the Ministry of Public Building and Works’ (1963). The new Ministry had obviously intended to mark the change of name by a change of colour scheme.

Interestingly Castell Caernarfon in red was chosen for the cover of the Department of Environment guide to Wales.

Caernarvon Castle


Phillips, the author of the souvenir, was also responsible for the guide to Monasteries in North Yorkshire.

St Botolph’s Priory

St Botolph's Priory


Sir Charles Peers, the Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments, prepared two Office of Works guidebooks in 1917: Kirby Muxloe Castle in Leicestershire and St Botolph’s Priory in Colchester. (Simon Thurley, Men from the Ministry, p. 156, only notes Kirby Muxloe’s guide.) The guide to the priory was re-issued in 1964 by the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works [Worldcat]. The 1964 edition consists of 12 pages divided into two sections: History (pp. 3-6) and The Priory Buildings (pp. 7-12). There are two black and white photographs and a partial plan of the priory as a centre double page spread. Peers makes a reference to the Victoria County History for Essex (1903) for his list of priors.

The guide to St Botolph’s Priory is no longer available, although there is a useful section with plan and reconstruction in Philip Crummy’s City of Victory: the Story of Colchester – Britain’s First Roman Town (1997). However Kirby Muxloe Castle is covered in a joint English Heritage guidebook (by John Goodall) with Ashby de la Zouch Castle.


Roman heritage in London

The Roman Wall at Tower Hill, London (2015). © David Gill

 One of the best preserved sections of the Roman wall surrounding Londinium can be found at Tower Hill (just next to Tower Hill underground station). This formed the eastern side of the city near to the Thames (and by the Tower of London, just off the picture to the right). They were probably constructed at the end of the second century AD; the upper section is medieval. The terminus post quem is provided by a coin of 183/4 predating the wall’s construction. The construction appears to have been completed by c. 210, again through numismatic evidence. Overall the wall was approximately 3 km in length. It may have stood as high as 6 m. The wall was constructed from ragstone that was shipped via the river Medway.

The wall is under the guardianship of English Heritage.

The Roman wall at Tower Hill (2015) © David Gill

Church Heritage in Suffolk

May 2015

May 2015

The May edition of the East Anglican (the diocesan magazine for St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) has a feature by Marion Welham on church tourism and the Angels and Pinnacles initiative. It notes the launch of the ‘Bells and Battlements’ launched at the Suffolk Unlocked event at Trinity Park, Suffolk (2015). There is a mention of the Heritage Futures seminar led by Marion earlier in the year.

Guides to Grime’s Graves

Grime's Graves

DOE Reprint 1975 (1963)

The first Ministry of Works guide to the neolithic mines at Grime’s Graves in Norfolk was replaced by an illustrated guide in 1963. (This copy is the 1975 Department of the Environment reprint.) It was written by Roy Rainbird Clarke (1914-63), the Director of the City of Norwich Museums, and son of one of the founders of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia.

Clarke’s guide has key sections: The Exploration of the Site; The Flint-mining Industry; Mining Technique; The Miners; The Axe Trade; After the Neolithic Period; there is a short description of the site essentially describing Pit 1. There is a fold-out card plan inside the back cover. (Note that the Custodian’s hut was in a slightly different location.)

The guide includes several reconstructions by Alan Sorrell: a ‘section’ through one of the pits showing how flint was quarried (p. 2); ‘How the miners extracted flint’ (pp. 16-17); ‘ritual ceremony among prehistoric flint-miners’ (p. 20); three views of ‘why the flint was mined’ (p. 25). One of them is clearly dated 1963 so presumably they were commissioned for the guide.

The format of the guide makes it contemporary with the illustrated guide to Stonehenge and Avebury, as well as for the Edwardian castles in Wales, and monasteries in Yorkshire.

Grime's Graves


The latest guide is by Peter Topping. The tour includes ‘Setting and landscape’ with an image of a stone curlew that sometimes nest at the site. There is a useful section on ‘Flint and its formation’. Those interested in the post-neolithic use of the site will find discussion (and reconstruction) of Grimshoe Mound  dating to the late Saxon period, and foxholes made by the Home Guard in World War 2.

Descend into England’s Story

Grimes Graves

Galleries at the bottom of Pit 1 at Grimes Graves (2015) © David Gill

The Neolithic flint mines at Grimes Graves must be one of the most unusual prehistoric sites in the care of English Heritage. Hard hats are worn for a steep climb into one of the pits where it is possible to look into the excavated galleries. Above ground the site is pock-marked with pits that are now covered in.

The heath is a wonderful place for wildlife: woodpecker, kite, larks and a range of butterflies were out enjoying the May sunshine.

Grimes Graves

Grimes Graves (2015)