This is the first of two items on excavations this week. We have written before (most recently 18 June this year) about the activities of DAG (Deverills Archaeology Group) which welcomes a small group of Salisbury Museum Volunteers to its talks and on its excavations.
Last week, Dr David Roberts (see ‘Excavations’ below) was ‘in town’ and led talks and discussion summarising the work of DAG over the last 18 months: six geo surveys, three evening talks, two excavations, funding wins, public engagement (including visits from Brownies and Young Archaeologists) and, most important of all, significant gains in knowledge and understanding of the history of the Deverills valley.
David Croot, Chairman, introduced the speakers and made particular mention of the organisations that had made the project possible financially: the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Warminster Area Board and the village hall.
The speakers, including David Roberts, made for a pretty high-powered bunch. Also present, and involved with continuing research and interpretation in the valley, were Mike Allen (environmental archaeologist), Dr Claire Rainsford (the animal bone lady!) and Dr Jorn Schuster (small finds expert).
Amongst other things we learned that the Romans enjoyed beef but in later periods lamb had become the favourite. We were also told that fish bones tend not to appear in excavation because people ate them, they dissolved in the gut, and so were not passed on, as it were (at least, I think that is what they said!). It may also be that not a lot of fish was eaten (although fresh water fish would have been available -and required on Fridays) and that fish bones are pretty small anyway…
We are grateful to the DAG blog for some of the detail here. You might like to go to their website and sign up for their blog, to keep track of events.
Did you read Linda’s report last week on the recent Rex Whistler tour of Wilton? Alan Crooks adds this…
As Linda said, we were all shocked at the terrible condition of Edith Olivier’s grave marker (Fig 1). I, however, was not surprised, as I had attended the first ever Wilton History Festival in 2017 during which the organiser, Dr Rebecca Lyons, now a Wilton Councillor, mentioned the awful state it was in and said that she would see whether anything could be done about it. I have reminded her about this and she has undertaken to pursue this further.
Edith, who had an interest in the paranormal, had been
familiar with the legend that two white birds would be seen flying over
Salisbury Cathedral following the death of a Bishop of Salisbury. Thus it is
particularly poignant that David Herbert, second son of Reginald, 15th
Earl of Pembroke in recalling her funeral, wrote: ‘As they lowered her coffin into the grave, with a swish of wings a
pigeon flew up into the sky. Cecil [Beaton] and I gasped and in one breath
said, ‘Edith soaring through tracks unknown!’
Close by Edith’s grave marker was that of her niece, Lillian Rosemary, who died in 2002 aged 99 (Fig 2). This is in much better condition than Edith’s. A member of our party explained that it was Lillian who bequeathed her aunt’s Rex Whistler pictures to Salisbury Museum.
Margaret, our guide, also pointed out the marble monumental effigies of Baron Herbert of Lea (Fig 3) and his wife Elizabeth within the church of St Mary and St Nicholas. Although Sidney Herbert is buried in the churchyard at Wilton, Elizabeth, who controversially converted to Roman Catholicism, is buried at the St Joseph’s Missionary College, Mill Hill, where she was a notable patron.
We were reminded that Sidney Herbert was Secretary at War during the Crimean
War and it was he who sent Florence Nightingale out to Scutari, and with
Nightingale led the movement for Army Health and War Office reform after the
Later in the afternoon, during a guided walk of Wilton House Park, Ros Liddington pointed out the busts of Gladstone and Disraeli, with associated messages, on the boathouse roof (Fig 4). The message on Gladstone’s bust says, ‘My number is 666’ whereas that on Disraeli’s bust says, ‘the time will come when…’ (I regret that I didn’t catch the rest of this, but it was equally salacious!)
As the younger son of George Herbert, 11th Earl of Pembroke, Sidney ran the Pembroke family estates at Wilton House
for most of his adult life, so therefore had the opportunity to build the
boathouse with the salacious busts. Sidney’s
mother was the Russian noblewoman Countess Catherine
Woronzow (or Vorontsov), the only daughter of Semyon, Count Woronzow,
formerly Russian ambassador at the court of St. James, and long-time resident
Sidney Herbert’s Russian ancestry caused him a lot of trouble in Parliament,
thus leading to his creation of the satirical busts.
A bronze statue of Sidney Herbert, who was MP for Wiltshire from 1832-1861,
is now in Victoria Park, Salisbury, having been moved there from Guildhall
Square in 1953 to make space for the coronation celebrations.
As Linda commented, this was a fascinating and really memorable day,
covering far more than Rex Whistler and his relationship with Edith Olivier;
and providing an opportunity to visit parts of Wilton House
Park not generally
accessible to the public. Very many thanks to Bridget for arranging it.
Gardening Volunteer trio, Brenda, Jane and Jenny, have plans to do more. If you have any spare plants which you could contribute to the garden and which might fit the plan, please initially let them know by leaving a message in Bridget’s tray or by emailing Bridget: email@example.com
Walking around the garden of the South Canonry (the Bishop’s residence) during last weekend’s ‘Secret Gardens of The Close’ Open Day recently, I was intrigued to notice a stone set in the wall next to a wrought iron gate. The stone was inscribed,
‘RMW Gleadowe. Creator of the Sword of Stalingrad and many beautiful things designed this gate.
I was therefore keen to find out what the Sword of Stalingrad was.
Wikipedia came to the rescue and informed me that it is a
double-edged, two handled longsword, approximately four feet long, with a solid
silver crossguard, inscribed in both Russian and English:
To the steel-hearted citizens of Stalingrad.
The gift of King George VI.
In token of the homage of the British people.
It was presented by Prime Minister Winston Churchill to
Marshal Joseph Stalin at a ceremony during the Tehran Conference, in the
presence of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a Guard of Honour. It pays
homage from the British people to the Soviet defenders of Stalingrad
during the Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943).
The original design of the sword was by R.M.W.Gleadowe, a fine arts don from the University of Oxford. The sword was manufactured by Wilkinson Sword.
The description, from Wikipedia states that the hand grip is
bound in 18 carat gold wire and has a pommel of rock crystal with a gold rose
Each end of the 10-inch crossguard is fashioned in the likeness of the head of
a leopard and finished with parcel gilt.
The 36-inch double-edged blade is lenticular in
cross-section and hand-forged from the finest Sheffield
The scabbard was made from Persian lamb skin dyed crimson.
It is decorated with the Royal Arms, the Crown and Cypher in silver gilt with
five silver mounts and three rubies mounted on gold stars.
In its time it was celebrated as one of the last
masterpieces in swordmaking craftsmanship from the modern age.
The sword is now displayed at the Battle of Stalingrad Museum in Volvograd (formerly Stalingrad) in southwest Russia, on the western bank of the Volga River.
Thank you so much Alan, for spotting this and doing the research. Good to record a time of friendly relations with Russia…
Waterloo Uncovered have sent us an update on their excavations this year which we thought we would share with you. You can find out more from their website…
Here’s a round-up of what and where we are going to be exploring come July; this year at Waterloo we will be working across two key locations.
Firstly, we will be continuing our work in the courtyard of Hougoumont Farm, chasing more of the large barn that was burnt during the battle and attempting to clarify the stratigraphic relationship between the stables and the barn itself.
This is likely to be our last year at Hougoumont, a wonderful place that has been our home since the start of the project – but we feel like the work we have done has really added to the story, although perhaps, as is always the case with archaeology, raised more questions than answers!
We are excited to be moving our main base of operations this year to the farm of Mont St Jean. The farm was not fought over during the battle, but was used as the field hospital for the Allied army. Quite what the archaeological record of this will be we are not sure, but we may find some disposal pits, uniforms, equipment and possibly artefacts related to the medical practices.
The archaeological methodology will be business as usual – we will metal detect the surface of the orchard and field surrounding the farm, then follow that with the opening of a series of trenches to both look for possible buried features, and clear the last 200 years of topsoil to enable us to metal detect the battle layers. We are also hoping to open a trench within the courtyard of the farm itself, in an area that is shown on contemporary pictures to have been used for the disposal of dead during the battle.”
Our blog on May 21 indicated that David Davies had tuned our harpsichord. In fact, it was Peter Barnes… Apologies, and thanks to the various readers who attempted to set us right. We got there in the end!
When Adrian Green (Director) gave his pre-exhibition briefing to staff and volunteers, he pointed out that the iconic exhibit is the painting of Col.T.E. Lawrence, 1919 (Fig.1), which was bought by the Duke of Westminster, who presented it immediately to The Tate. This painting came out of the Paris Peace Conference held at Versailles in 1919 where John was one of two official artists. Lawrence was present as adviser and interpreter for the Emir Faisal.
This prompted a member of the audience to recall that T.E.
Lawrence’s robes could be seen at The National Army Museum in London. Adrian
replied that they could also be seen at the Ashmolean
Museum in Oxford. I had the opportunity to view these
when I visited for the ‘Spellbound’ exhibition (about witchcraft) last year (Fig
The Ashmolean Museum writes that these are the actual robes worn by Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888 – 1935) during WW1. Headdress: Saudi Arabia from 1916, silk with gold thread and a silk core. Robe: Saudi Arabia from 1916, Silk with gold and silver thread. Shirt: (Thob) Saudi Arabia from 1916, white silk embroided. Gold dagger: (khanjar) and belt Saudi Arabia from 1916, steel and gold filigree.
In Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Ch.XX) Lawrence wrote, “I was…[fitted out]…in splendid white silk and golden-embroidered
wedding garments which had been sent to Faisal lately (was it a hint?) by his
great-aunt in Mecca.”
Also of interest is that, in 2016, a family friend of mine, Rodney Havelock Walker, who lived locally, died. Among his possessions were some artefacts pertaining to T.E. Lawrence. These included: 1. Book, ‘Battles and Sieges in the Peninsula, with a label fixed inside stating:
City of Oxford High
Midsummer Examination, 1903
Prize for: Upper Fourth Form
Awarded to: T.E. Lawrence
2. Book: Seven
Pillars of Wisdom, containing the Dedication:
“To Rodney Havelock Walker, on your Christening Day. As a memento that you were Christened in the author’s Christening robe” (Fig. 3).
3. A page from The Times newspaper, dated January 30th 1936, pertaining to ‘A Memorial to Lawrence in St Paul’s Cathedral’.
4. A pair of sandals said to have belonged to T.E. Lawrence. There was no proof of provenance beyond their association with these other artefacts.
Fig.4. below Fig.5. below
Fig.4. shows artefacts belonging to Rodney Havelock Walker
Fig.5. shows artefacts as shown on BBC TV
5. B&W photograph, labelled ‘Cyrene’ (a city in Libya) on the back.
I had the privilege of exhibiting these artefacts (Fig. 4) at
a meeting of Fisherton History Society in April, 2017 following a talk on
‘Lawrence of Arabia’ by one of our members.
Readers will be interested to know that the sandals were
sold at auction, by Hanson’s Auctioneers of Derbyshire, in December, 2017 for
Charles Hanson, owner of Hanson’s Auctioneers, commented that,
“When I pulled Lawrence of Arabia’s sandals out of a carrier bag I was astonished – and delighted. He is one of Britain’s most iconic figures, a man who played a key role in world history and inspired one of the most famous films ever made.”
We don’t know what the connection of Rodney was with T.E. Lawrence. However,
Rodney’s father, Cecil, was a banker in Parkstone area of Dorset,
and it is possible that this is how he encountered T.E. Lawrence, who must have
become a close family friend.