Saturday, 30 November 2013

Cressing Temple: "We are consulting employees ... in order to reduce the subsidy required to manage the site"

Following revelations about the drastic cuts proposed by Essex County Council to the Cressing Temple heritage site, members of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History have written to their local County Councillors, Members of Parliament and, where appropriate District Councillors of Braintree DC. 

The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP serves the Essex constituency of Brentwood and Ongar, also holding the Cabinet post of Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.  It is his department which is handing down the drastic cuts to the public sector.   In a response to a member the MP has enclosed a letter from Cllr David Finch, the political Leader of Essex County Council.  The text is repeated in full below.


Essex County Council
Leaders Office
PO Box 11,
County Hall

Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP
Member of Parliament for Brentwood and Ongar
House of Commons

25 November 2013

Dear Eric
Re: Cressing Temple

Thank you for your email dated 6 November 2013 regarding the above.

Essex County Council (ECC) is committed to continuing to deliver its services in Green Assets at a time when we face unprecedented financial challenges. Reduced funding from central government, together with the impact of inflation and increasing demands for services mean the council needs to save a further £215m by 2016/17. As a consequence, we are identifying opportunities to operate differently, while continuing to deliver services wherever possible. On 23rd October we started a formal consultation period with employees at Cressing Temple Barns. We are consulting with our employees on proposals to implement a new operating model, in order to reduce the subsidy required to manage the site.

Our proposal recommends a series of changes which if implemented, will mean:
• The site is open every weekend from April through to the end of October;
• The site is open every day of the school summer holidays;
• Grounds will be open for informal access during weekdays between April and October, but the visitor centre and associated facilities will remain closed; and
• The site will continue to open for planned events and room hires from November to April, as scheduled.

These options are subject to feedback following the end of employee consultation which will end on 6 December 2013.

If implemented, we anticipate the new operating model will be live from April 2014.

ECC will continue to be committed to ensuring this valuable site, its grounds and barns are maintained and protected for future generations. We will continue to promote awareness and understanding of this valuable heritage site.

Thank you for drawing this matter to my attention and I trust the above has provided you with sufficient clarification into the current position.


Cllr David Finch
Leader of the Council


The most interesting paragraph in the whole letter is this: “We are consulting with our employees on proposals to implement a new operating model, in order to reduce the subsidy required to manage the site.” 

Essex County Council faces the challenge of reducing its budget by £215m by 2016/17, representing an ongoing and relentless round of cuts in grant announced in this year’s Government Comprehensive Spending Review.  The economy is now growing but there is a political philosophy to create a thin public sector.  This emphasis means it becomes inevitable that things which do not make money – where expenditure exceeds income – and require a subsidy to operate face reductions or closure.  We are seeing this across the history, heritage and archaeology sector.  Our Society member commented to Mr Pickles that these are the very things important to a society’s understanding, identity and wellbeing and that society, community and individuals are diminished when opportunities to engage in the past are lost. 

Consultation with employees, which the Leader of Essex County Council refers to, is in all probability with those in the ‘at risk’ category: at risk of redundancy.  The Leader does not mention the staff losses which will result as a consequence of the decimation of service at Cressing Temple.  This is not public consultation at all.  Once leaders in the field of heritage and related fields are lost there exists a downward spiral of professional expertise which is difficult to plug by the enthusiast.  To be fair, the Leader has daunting political choices to make.  We have to question Government policy.  It leads to a society which knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

ESAH Stock Clearance: Transactions, Offprints, Newsletters and 'Feet of Fines' on offer

The Essex Society for Archaeology and History must relocate and downsize its stock of books by December (2013).  On offer are several back numbers of our ‘Transactions’.  These contain a wide range of interesting items relating to the history, archaeology and heritage of Essex.  Indexes to the volumes are also available.  We are also “writing off” all offprints, Newsletters and ‘Feet of Fines’ for the county. (Contents lists for each of the Transactions may be found on http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/esah.html and http://www.esah160.blogspot.co.uk ).

Members of the Society will be able to visit our busy Colchester storeroom on Saturday mornings (on production of a membership card or other evidence) by appointment with Andrew Smith, Hon Deputy Librarian of the Society.  (Contact and details via http://www.esah160.blogspot.co.uk ).  They may also take surplus books to their own local history societies or groups to add to their libraries or sell as wished.

Non-members may also contact the Society to visit the storeroom.  Volumes will be sold at “an unlikely to be repeated” £2 each if collected directly from the storeroom.  Copies before 1960 will be £1 each.  Feet of Fines, 50p.  Newsletters and Offprints, 10p each. 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Rivenhall: Essex Archaeological News, Autumn 1973

Essex Archaeological News, Autumn 1973 (No 44)


The training excavation at Rivenhall this year was during the month of August, and this year the dig has moved away from the church itself to the North East corner of the church yard.

This is the corner nearest to the Roman aisled barn, and the Villa, which are in the field beyond the church yard hedge.

The ground level in this corner is significantly raised above that of the field to the North, inferring that the Northern hedge is an old boundary, and that some redeposition has occurred in the church yard area.

Warwick was sure that the corner had been added to the medieval church yard, and excavation has shown this to be so since a boundary ditch follows a drop off in level and cuts off much of the corner.

Excavation has revealed the omnipresent Roman 'cobbled level, and a robbed Roman wall trench associated with the higher levels of the church yard. Above, and reaching down to this Roman gravelly level are Saxon burials, puzzling since here they are so far from the church proper.

The number and density seems high, and these cannot have been covered with much more than a foot of soil, which is typical of early burials.

Below the burials, where the ground appears to form a shelf, there is a medieval level, possibly a house site, where a discrete defined area is covered with gravel make-up. This level contains a varied collection of pottery and oyster shells which seem to have been used as part of the make-up.

Coins, however do not feature as make-up, and these together with a gilt hinged cross ornament, have led Warwick to believe this may be the site of a rectory, associated with the church, and adjacent in medieval times.

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Fighting Essex Soldier: Recruitment, War and Remembrance in the Fourteenth Century: One Day Conference at Essex Record Office, Saturday 8 March 2014

'The Fighting Essex Soldier: Recruitment, War and Remembrance in the Fourteenth Century' is the title of a one-day Conference to be held at the Essex Record Office on Saturday 8 March 2014. The cost, £15, booked in advance on 01245 244614.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Essex References in Joseph Strutt's 'Manners': (11) St Botolphs, Colchester

Complete View of the Manners, Customs, Arms, Habits & Co of the Inhabitants of England, 1774, by Joseph Strutt.
Essex references
11.   St Botolphs, Colchester
Page 102

St Botolph's Priory, Colchester

“[Of the religious Buildings of the Normans … ]  The most antient Norman building I have met with, is the priory church of St Botolph, at Colchester in the county of Essex, which noble ruin merits the attention of the public.  The main wall is full 6 feet thick, faced both within and without with hewn pebbles of a large size; the immediate space between the facings is filled up with brickbats, tile sheards and small rough pebbles.  The small arches on the front, over the door way, which intersect each other, (See plate 30, fig 3) are composed of thin small bricks which project about 6 inches from the main wall.  The large arches, as well of stone, and over that they were faced on all sides with small pamments about 1 foot square, and 2 inches thick, which were all set edgeways.  There are several appearances of windows in the walls, which are very narrow, as was the constant custom of making them at that time.  The arched door-way is very remarkable on account of its stateliness and grandeur; the neatness and elegance of the workmanship in shaping and placing the bricks, (of which the facing is entirely composed) is almost incredible; in short, such in the beauty and awful appearance of the whole, that the beholder must be struck with pleasure and surprize, at the sight of this venerable and antient ruin.  Entering the church, we see the body which was very large, divided from two narrow aysles by six noble pillars, raised with stone and faced at every angle with bricks neatly ornamented.  Bricks at this period were held more ornamental than stone, as may be seen by such pains being taken in this building to cover the stone with brick facings.

“This priory was built by Ernulphus, a religious man, about the year 1110, in the reign of Henry the first, and dedicated to St Botolph and St Julian.  Ernulphus was chosen first prior.  I may also remark, that particularly in the great arches, and in the foundation of this priory, are a vast number of Roman bricks: but this will not be wondered at, when it is known that Colchester was a Roman station (1).  And it is a strongly disputed point whether it was not the Camalodunum, a great city of the Romans: though Camden and others place this city at Maldon in the same county.”

References: (1) See Morant Hist. of Essex and Camden in Essex. 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Quarterly Meeting and Excursion, Tuesday 27th May 1913: Transactions n.s. Volume 13 Part 2

An excursion to White Notley, Faulkbourne and Witham in 1913. (Witham burh was built in 913.)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

ESAH Book Clearance

Scroll down through this blog to find out more about the Society's need to reduce its stock of Transactions and other books by Christmas.  Contact us through this site

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Harwich: Essex Archaeological News, Autumn 1973

Essex Archaeological News, Autumn 1973 (No 44)


It is high time, so I have been reminded, that Harwich is reported; and this I agree since this excavation in the furthest North East of Essex took place for thirteen weeks in 1972 between 20th March and the 18th June, and has been falling between editorial stools since then.

Directed by Steven Bassett for the EAS Research and Fieldwork Committee, the dig was financed by the DOE and Harwich Borough Council, and was given a final helping hand by the Harwich Society who raised a £100 to help the closing stages of the excavation.

Redevelopment in this venerable Essex port enabled three sites to be examined in detail.

With the capricious nature of town sites, one of these on West Street proved to have been completely removed by nineteenth century cellars, and was abandoned.

The site near the Ebenezer Chapel proved more fruitful and the initial clearance showed that a whole series of structures had occupied the site. The major masonry structure had been built in the mid fifteenth century, and represented the latest of three phases of stone building, the earliest of which was probably built at the end of the thirteenth century, a period which marks the foundation of the port of Harwich by the Earl of Norfolk.

Until the mid-seventeenth century the property appeared to have been extensive, and could have been owned by a succession of wealthy merchants. At its most extensive state the building enclosed the whole of the area between St. Austins Lane and the northern boundary of Ebenezer Chapel, and bounded on the east by Eastgate Street, and on the west by Kings Head Street.

The area excavated represented only half of the original plot, one half lying under the Chapel. Modern road widening had encroached until all the external walls are under road extensions.

Of the area available one half was excavated.

The earliest phase of the merchant's hall was found to be over fine masonry cellars, but there seems to have been a trend throughout medieval and the immediate post medieval periods, to abandon the use of cellars for storage, presumably because of water seepage. At least one of the cellars was infilled before the middle of the fourteenth century with deposits of clean sand and clay.

By then the building consisted of three wings of two or three storeys, built of large slabs and nodules of septaria (quarried at Dovercourt). The wings fronted onto streets on the east, west and south, and enclosed a courtyard with access from Eastgate probably through a gatehouse. The courtyard was cobbled with a wide access for wagons. A timbered staircase gave access to the first floor from St. Austins Lane.

At the mid seventeenth century all this substantial building was demolished and replaced by a timbered building which used the reduced masonry walls as beam supports. This building declined until its demolition in 1947.

The third site examined was at the Quay Pavilion, and merits the title of the Essex Watergate enquiry. Excavation located a series of medieval and post med. quays and jetties extending to some fifty metres behind the present quay face.

Each successive rebuild represented an advance seawards of the whole quay face.

The earliest quay seen was a complex of four masonry walls built of blocks and nodules of septaria. Three of the four form a watergate flanked by 'a masonry staircase the lowest course of which survived and whose foundations were massive.

The stairs may have replaced a timbered stairway since sockets for a wooden platform were found behind the wall on the landward side, from this platform a timbered stairway could have extended on the landward side of the wall, to sea level.

Several sherds of late twelfth, or early thirteenth century pottery were in the sand and clay layers which sealed the beach behind the watergate walls.

In the first quarter of the fifteenth century a new quay was built to the seaward of that just described. Deeply set timber shuttering enclosed masonry walls to form an indented quay face. The previous masonry stairs still served as access to the inlet some four and a half metres behind the new quay.

Further modifications of the new quay led to an unbroken quay face, and the addition of a timbered stairway (Lambard's Stairs) set in the surviving indentation.

The second phase of the quay was associated with extensive re-development of the building which occupied the quay front on the east side of Kings Head Street, which is thought to have been the Custom's House. An extension towards the sea incorporated a large portion of the former quay. Two small flanking structures with heavily cobbled floors leading to indentations in the timber quay wall, were probably the bases of timber framed, pivoting cranes by which cargoes could be unloaded.

By the first quarter of the seventeenth century a further pair of crane houses replaced the previous ones, fronting a straightened quay wall, and making way for two projecting wings from the Customs House.

In the mid seventeenth century a further extension of the quay was made by a jetty which still had an indentation associated with the original masonry stairs, although these were long out of use.

Further extensions of the masonry wings were built of brick, and the central inlet was eventually filled with pounded chalk to the jetty level, during the mid-eighteenth century, and the wings were amalgamated to form one brick warehouse. This survived until the arrival of the railway in the 1850s, when the latest quay was rebuilt to a line approximately that of today.

The excavation was carried out through the kind co-operation of the Harwich Borough Council and in particular Alderman L T Weaver who gave the excavations invaluable support.

Other individuals mentioned for their particular help and encouragement are Lt. Cdr. R.H.Farrands who not only made a generous donation but showed constant interest, and Mrs Winifred Cooper both in her capacity as President of the Harwich Society and for her constant help and encouragement on the excavation, and for her hospitality to the whole digging team at her house.

Steven Bassett also pays tribute to his team: Hal Bishop, Murray Sager and Ed Sinker(site assistants) and Linda Ritchie and Carol Simpson(draughting).

Members of the Borough Surveyor's staff are also thanked for their help, and Captain Lord of Navyard for the free use of a compressor.

It is so easy to recount the findings of a town excavation as has been done here, but we must put it into perspective by saying once more that it lasted for thirteen weeks, and how many tons of obstinate spoil must have been moved in that time, it is the enthusiasm which does all this to recover the town history, which is valued more than anything else.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

ESAH Storeroom Clearance

Many new books which will be of interest to Essex people are now on offer by the Essex Society for Archaeology and History.  The organisation needs to relocate and downsize its Colchester storeroom by Christmas.  About half of its stock must go.

On offer are several volumes of its Transactions stretching back to the early twentieth century as well as offprints.  These contain a wide range of interesting items relating to the history, archaeology and heritage of Essex.  Unused indexes to the volumes are also available as well as back numbers of Essex Archaeology and History News and ‘Feet of Fines’ for the county. (Contents lists for each of the Transactions may be found on http://www.blackmorehistory.co.uk/esah.html and http://www.esah160.blogspot.co.uk ).

Members of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History will be able to receive a selection of “written off stock” at a bookstall held at the inaugural meeting of the Essex Industrial Archaeology Group this Saturday (23 November, doors from 2pm) at Chelmsford Museum.  They may also visit the busy storeroom in person on Saturdays (on production of a membership card or other evidence) by appointment with Andrew Smith, Hon Deputy Librarian of the Society.  (Contact and details via http://www.esah160.blogspot.co.uk ).  Members may also take surplus books to their own local history societies or groups to add to their bookshelves or sell as wished.  For example, the High Country History Group will be holding a book sale at its Christmas meeting on Thursday 28 November. (Meeting at 8pm, Toot Hill Village Hall, with speaker preceded and followed by sale.)

Non-members may also contact the Society to visit the storeroom.  Volumes will be sold at “an unlikely to be repeated” £2 each if collected directly from the storeroom.  Copies before 1960 will be £1 each.  Feet of Fines, 50p.  Newsletters, 10p each. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Essex Industrial Archaeology Group: Saturday 23 November 2013

A new venture for the Essex Society for Archaeology and History begins this Saturday (23 November 2013) with the launch of the new Essex Industrial Archaeology Group (EIAG).  The latest issue of the Essex Journal provides more information, which has already been posted on this blog.  Tony Crosby, who is organising the event has confirmed the titles of the short talks (see below) which will follow a short business meeting.  Members of the Society may be enrolled into the Group without an additional annual fee.  The meeting starts at 2.30pm (doors open 2pm) and will be held at Chelmsford Museum. The Society will also be holding a book stall of publications 'written off' from our stock. Contact Tony if you want to be there.

The three short talks are as follows:
  1. European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH) – Paul Gilman
  2. Brickworks and their rail links – Adrian Corder-Birch
  3. EIAG Aims and Activities – Tony Crosby

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Save Cressing Temple

ECC limit access to historic site
The Braintree and Witham Times has published an item about Cressing Temple's cuts to staff and access imposed by Essex County Council (see earlier post).  Elphin Watkin, a member of this Society (Essex Society for Archaeology and History) says that this is an insult to our war dead because substantial funding was forthcoming from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to preserve the site. Full article: http://www.braintreeandwithamtimes.co.uk/news/braintree_witham_news/10809923.Braintree__Cressing_Temple_cutbacks_plan__insulting_to_war_dead_/

Essex References in Joseph Strutt's 'Manners': (10) Rayleigh

Complete View of the Manners, Customs, Arms, Habits & Co of the Inhabitants of England, 1774, by Joseph Strutt.
Essex references
10.   Rayleigh
Page 93

Rayleigh Castle: Plan

“On plate 30, fig 1 & 2, is the plan and perspective view of an old fortification at Raleigh in the county of Essex (1).  At A on the plan is the evident remains of the barbican or fortified breast work of the castle,* yet very perfect.  B is a Norman keep, divided from the base court C, both which antiently (in the time of the Saxons) were one entire keep or hill. #  The communication here between the keep and base court is not over a bridge, (as is usual in the castles entirely of Norman construction) but over a narrow neck of earth, left in the dividing of the former castle, which spared them the trouble of digging it quite through, and answered all the purposes of a bridge.  We never find the keep and base court thus joined, but where the Normans occupied and rebuilt the castles of the Saxons.”

Rayleigh Castle: Perspective
“Footnotes:  * Some suppose these fortified banks to be the remains of the fortifications of the Romans; but I have no doubt but that in the present case they were only what were called the barbicans; though at Plusly [Pleshey] in Essex the Norman castle actually stands in the midst of a Roman entrenchment, which is of great circumference, but even there the barbican is (though much defaced) to be distinguished.
#  I have often in the course of this work made use of the word keep, both in the description of the Saxon as well as Norman entrenchments: when I applied it to the Saxons, I mean by it, the whole extent on the ground work of the castle, exclusive of the ditch.  By the Norman keep I would be understood to mean only the hill constantly raised at one end of the castle, which is mostly small and high; and though it seems not in the least to bear any analogy to the ground work of the Saxon castles, yet I will not deny that the Normans may have been to them indebted for the first hint, making their keep smaller and higher, and adding an extensive base court; thinking by this double fortification to render themselves much more secure.”

[Plate 30]  Ground plot of Rayleigh castle, see p.93.  Perspective of ditto.  3, St Botolph’s Priory, see p.102.  4, St John’s Abbey gate, p.103.
Reference: (1) See Morant’s Hist. of Essex. 

Supplementary Note: Raleigh Mount in now in the care of the National Trust.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

ESAH160: Book Sales at Essex Society for Archaeology and Hi...

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ESAH160: Essex Industrial Archaeology Group: Inaugural Meet...: 'Industries of Essex' will be the topic of the inaugural meeting of the Essex Industrial Archaeology Group, to be held on Saturd...

ESAH160: Essex Industrial Archaeology Group: An Invitation ...

ESAH160: Essex Industrial Archaeology Group: An Invitation ...: ESSEX INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY GROUP The Way Forward for Industrial Archaeology in Essex The Essex Industrial Archaeology Group (EIA...

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ESAH160: Flint Knapping Lecture & Demonstration, Chelmsford...: The next Society event will be a Flint Knapping Lecture and Demonstration at Chelmsford Museum, starting at 2.00pm on Saturday 16 November...

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The AGM: Essex Archaeological News, Autumn 1973

Essex Archaeological News, Autumn 1973 (No 44)


If ever there was an event in the Society history to which the time honoured word 'occasion' applied, then this was the 23rd June 1973.

Everything seemed to be in favour. The Mercury Theatre providentially available, beside the Balkerne Gate, the day perhaps the hottest and sunniest in June, and of course our guest and Vice President Sir Mortimer [Wheeler] to share the day and his reminiscences. No, the last word is wrong, the definition is the recovery of knowledge by mental effort, and this could never apply to the polished and apparently effortless way in which Sir Mortimer kept his audience enthralled. But I digress …

The day was planned to start with an exhibition at the Theatre combined with guided tours of both excavations and the Castle, the exhibition was there after some last minute struggles but the guides were not in evidence, and especial apologies are due to the party which had travelled from Saffron Walden with adequate warning only to find that they had to guide themselves. From that time on the streets of Colchester seemed to throng with Society members.

The pictorial exhibitions were hung on frames loaned by the Museum and showed the Rivenhall Exhibition which is excellent material and has outstanding illustrations, and two sets of Rescue photographs showing the archaeological evidence which is at risk and the methods of destruction.

This exhibition was shown in the foyer of the Theatre, and in a small gallery upstairs, during this time the Restaurant was open and members were beginning to circulate.

Having set up part of the exhibition and transported the stands I personally began a tight schedule which included a Publications Committee meeting at the Castle and lunch with the President at the Rose and Crown before returning to set up for the A.G.M. itself.

The main meeting went smoothly with a welcoming speech by Mr M R Hull, our Vice President and a reply to the membership by the President, Major J G S Brinson. The elections were then carried out, the President being reinstated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who took over the chair and deftly replaced the Ribbon of Office.

The other elections followed the proposals of the Council, and the new Council itself needed no election of a competitive nature since there were just twelve persons nominated, these are shown below.

In the business which followed the proposal by the Council that there be a Library membership, was the subject of some discussion, and it was apparent that the meeting was against the motion. Mr Charles Sparrow, Q.C., the Hon. Legal Adviser, then moved an amendment placing the task with the Council of setting suitable fees for access to the Library facilities in the case of non-members. This amendment was carried.

The President moved a vote of thanks to Mr David Forder the Manager of the Theatre and then moved on to the final item.

The Council had decided to give a positive indication of gratitude to Mr John S. Appleby, the recently retired Secretary, and The President made it clear that Mr Appleby had served as Hon. Archivist for five years before his becoming Secretary in 1959, the sum was 18 years in Office.

The Council had subscribed towards a brief case inscribed with Mr Appleby's initials, which was then shown to the meeting, The President said how he regretted that Mr Appleby had been unable to attend because of another engagement, and suggested that others in the meeting might wish to show their appreciation. The brief case was then passed round for examination, and many members placed in it their own tokens of appreciation. The President promised to convey it to Mr Appleby with the meeting's good wishes.

After adjourning for tea, both members and others met in the Theatre at 4 o'clock to hear a talk by Sir Mortimer Wheeler. I made the count about three hundred.

There followed three quarters of an hour of rare enjoyment with Sir Mortimer showing his supreme ability as a raconteur. Starting with a quip about his 'lecture', this went on to recount his connections with Colchester, which are not those usually heard, and which were punctuated with roars of laughter from the audience, and then passed on to his ultimate moment of satisfaction with the recognition of an amphora handle, in an Indian museum, which led to the unearthing of the Roman occupation there.

The meeting was then open for questions which were answered for nearly half an hour, and the meeting was finally brought to a close with applause and thanks to our speaker, and Vice President.
The whole perfect day left one regret: that it is unlikely such a combination of ideal factors can coincide again.

To conclude one man's A.G.M., the exhibition was stripped and packed, and as we stood outside packing the car the clock struck six, so we were able to retire to the 'Hole in the Wall' and celebrate in proxy for Sir Mortimer who had tried in vain to visit that pub earlier in the day.

The Council:- P.B.Boyden, D.M.Blouet, P.J.Drury, W.J.Rodwell, Mrs J-A. Buck, J.Cornwall, Mrs K.A.Rodwell, Mrs P.Monk, Dr F.G.Emmison, Mrs O Daynes, T.A.Betts, S.R.Bassett.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Books 'Written Off' by Essex Society for Archaeology and History

Written off books

Members of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History may have back numbers of its books free of charge.  The Society must move its storeroom to a smaller location, and around 60% of its stock must be go by Christmas.

At the Flint Knapping Lecture on 16 November, and meeting and talks to launch the Essex Industrial Archaeology Group on 23 November, at Chelmsford Museum, there will be a bookstall selling surplus non ESAH books and giving away written off volumes of Transactions, newsletters, occasional papers etc.  We will accept donations to our Publications and Research Fund.

Also, we are looking for members of the pubic who might be interested in receiving volumes for their Local History Society library, archive or similar.  Is there a kindred Society short of a single volume?  Can we help?  Can you collect?

For more information and a contents / availability list contact Andrew via the form on www.esah160.blogspot.co.uk .

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday

War Memorial outside
St Andrew's Church, North Weald
Andrew Smith, blogger for the Essex Society for Archaeology and History writes: 

As local historians we cannot let this day pass without a time of reflection and remembrance.  

William John Dawes, Lance Corporal, 1st Essex Regiment was my great-uncle.  He served in the ‘failed’ eight month campaign in Gallipoli which was fought by Commonwealth and French forces in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war.  Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery was created after the Armistice when graves were brought in from isolated sites and small burial grounds on the battlefields of April - August and December 1915.  There are now 3,360 First World War servicemen buried or commemorated in the cemetery. 2,226 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate many casualties known or believed to be buried among them, including 142 officers and men of the 1st Essex who died on 6th August 1915.  My great-uncle was one of those who fell on that day. 

North Weald names remembered
on War Memorial
He is commemorated on the War Memorial at North Weald and is also remembered by his family on the grave of his brother, Henry, who died in 1929 and was buried in the village churchyard.

The ‘Commonwealth War Graves Commission’, who records his name as J. W. Dawes, includes the following citation:

We will remember them. 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Colchester Town Ditch: Transactions n.s. Volume 13 Part 2

Roman discovery found in Colchester, written by A M Jarmin for the Transactions in 1913.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Cressing Temple: Does this look like a Country Park?

Wheat Barn at Cressing Temple 
We have also sent a letter to each councillor. Matthew Saunders has informed the National Heritage Memorial Fund. As it is Remembrance week it is also memorable that the NHMF was set up after the last war to save the most important historic buildings, art and landscape for the Nation and was funded by government from our taxes to act as a permanent memory to the War Dead. Also if one tries to find Cressing from the ECC site – one goes through to country parks and each has its own web page only Cressing page is not available – gone already!

Elphin & Brenda

Yes, you are right. The Cressing Temple webpage has changed since I found the link to it when I published your item on Tuesday (48 hours or so ago).  A really sad situation that such a great site is relegated to being in Essex Country Parks too. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Cressing Temple: follow up

Cathedral-like Cressing Temple's Barley Barn
News of potential restriction of access by Essex County Council to Cressing Temple has brought the following response:

DA writes: "If everyone could write to their county councillors that would be a help, and District councillors if living in the Braintree District.  And to Simon Thurley or Greg Luton at English Heritage."

What a shame to restrict access to these cathedral like buildings. To leave the site closed and unmanned in winter is pure madness.

Diana Dollery

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Uphall Camp: Essex Archaeology and History News, Winter 1987

In this extract from the Essex Archaeology and History News, published in Winter 1987, we continue the story of Uphall Camp.

Earlier articles appeared in Transactions n.s. Volume 8 and Transactions n.s. Volume 9.


We are currently excavating the interior of Uphall Camp, with funds from English Heritage, the London Borough of Newham and Whithorn Ltd. The Camp was first recorded on a map of 1735 but has had a chequered history - its final fate. After being the site of a chemical works Is to be totally covered by housing. Unfortunately almost nothing of the original fortification can be seen today, although traces were recorded by Crouch last century before the building of Howards Chemical Works; and photographs taken in the late nineteenth century show the rampart and Lavender Mount. In 1960 the Passmore Edwards Museum found traces of the single rampart and ditch forming the defences of this large enclosure (43acres/19ha). Pottery from the ditch and from the current excavations is datable to the later Middle Iron Age, perhaps the 3rd or 4th centuries BC.

So far, we have excavated two round houses, a circular domestic or agricultural building and most recently a possible rectangular building.  Associated with these buildings are traces of at least four four-posters’-small, square structures which are probably raised granaries. Large quantities of charcoal and burnt grain and other seeds should give us an idea of the crops grown by the Iron Age farmers and of the surrounding wild vegetation.  Soil conditions are such that no bone has been preserved.  There are also signs of the site being divided up by boundary ditches, perhaps making separate properties. 

An unexpected surprise was the discovery this summer of what appears to be one side (the ditch) of a late Roman (3rd – 4th century AD) signal station or watch-tower.  It seems to be square in shape and has relatively deep v-shaped ditches.  From the tower it would have been possible to look over large areas of what are now East Ham, Barking and Ilford.  The nearest similar structure is the signal station at Shadwell, east London.

After the Roman period the site appears to have been used for agricultural purposes; two of the ditches can be dated to the late Medieval or early Post-medieval period.  Even when the factory was in operation, his part of the site was kept as allotments until the 1960s.

If excavations continue to be funded for another six months at least, it is hoped to excavate double the present area. …

Pamela Greenwood

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Breaking News: Essex County Council in drastic measures to cut access to famous Cressing Temple Site

Cressing Temple Site
(taken April 2007)

Essex County Council have earmarked nearly £1m for new furniture for County Hall. However against this spend in times of austerity consultations have started to cut staff at Cressing Temple from 10 full-time with 2 part-time to 3 part-time and one of those a gardener. The site will be under severe limitations regarding full opening times, including buildings, from April to October. These will be limited to weekends except during the school summer holidays with ‘informal’ access to the site during the week but no access to shop or cafe which will remain closed. The rest of the year, November to March, the site will be closed and no one living on site.

What an effective way to serve the death knell on this extremely important historic site. A Templar site that can be said to be unparalleled in Europe if not the world, containing two 13th century barns and a well together with a range of other buildings of subsequent ages that continued the working farm.

Barley Barn, Cressing Temple
When the site came under threat in the 1980s ECC had money from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to buy and safeguard the site.  The Cressing Temple Charter produced and signed by Paul White, later Lord Hanningfield, reads:

“Essex County Council having become custodians of Cressing Temple on behalf of the people of Essex declares that:

The site will be used as a focus for the County’s heritage

Inside the magnificent Barley Barn,
Cressing Temple
The skills and crafts that went into the construction and creation of the buildings, gardens and landscape will be preserved, demonstrated and explained

Opportunities for learning and research offered by a site of such importance will be used to enable present and future generations to be aware of the County’s history and their personal relationship to it

The buildings and grounds will be made available for public use and enjoyment”

Despite this clear intent the site, opened by Chris Patten and enjoying numerous Royal visits, has, since being vested in Country Parks sidelined and undergone the process of ‘dumming’ down to a country park. Even work to repair the trellis in the garden, a contract won by Country Parks has not been honoured. Cressing was never envisaged as a money spinner ECC had become custodians of the site and were committed to protect it for the people of Essex.

We hope that you will take time to write to the press, Essex County Council or any other person or society that will support the aim to protect and allow the site and buildings to continue in the way envisaged by the charter.

Elphin & Brenda Watkin. 4 NOV 2013

ESAH Q&A: Mystery Marks on Mersea Island

Parch marks at Coopers Beach, East Mersea, Mersea Island
The Essex Society for Archaeology and History has members who are professional historians, archaeologists, archivists and specialists in the heritage field.  It also has many members who as amateur enthusiasts love the history of the county.  So we were pleased to receive a query from one of our visitors to this blog.

Blogger enquiry:
“Hi, some time ago I noticed a large parch-mark circle near Coopers Beach. A few days ago, a noticed a row of mounds, which could be North-South burials. I have some photos if you would like to see them.
“Roger Fordham”

AS: “Dear Roger
“Thank you for your e mail.  Would like to see your photos and publish them on our blog.
“I should know where Coopers Beach is.  Can you remind me.
“Andrew Smith
“Essex Society for Archaeology and History”

Roger Fordham: 
Hi Andrew,
“Thank you for the reply.
“I have attached a couple of photos. They are not of the best quality, but, hopefully, they will pique the interest of someone knowledgeable to come to see them. Was it an Iron Age house? Are they pagan burials? Have I watched too much 'Time Team'? J I would love to know!
“Coopers Beach is the holiday park at the end of Church Lane, East Mersea. The curiosities are on Shell Beach, nearby. They would have been much further inland years ago, as there has been a lot of erosion of the coastline.
“Hope you find the photos useful and interesting. How will I know what happens/ keep track?

AS: “Dear members
“Can anyone help with this query please which I received via the blog? 
“Andrew Smith

PS: “I may be able to assist, however a six figure grid reference is required to ensure I view the exact site. The photograph indicates the location overlooks the Colne estuary, this was heavily defended during WWII, the site may be military?”

AS: “Dear Roger
“Like you I am an amateur enthusiast with knowledge of archaeology limited to ‘Time Team’ – but there’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s a shame that the programme is no longer made.
I have forwarded your e mail to a few people in the Society who may be able to help us, and received a query:
[e mail above copied]
“Do please let me know.  Also I wonder how large in diameter these circles are.
“Nice photo by the way of the Mersea coastline. Very Essex!”

Roger Fordham: “The circle is about 10 mtrs in diameter. There is an outer circle and one less than a metre inside.
“I don't have map coordinates, but I've taken a GPS reading:
Lat N 51° 47' 11.699"
Lon E 000° 58' 57.982"
“I contacted the Colchester Museum a couple of years ago. They contacted someone who could not find any war references.
“It was the discovery of the mounds which prompted me to try again.”

JK: “Iron Age round houses?  Possibly but such parch marks usually indicated buried structures such as stone.  What about 2nd WW defences?  Have you consulted Essex Heritage Environment Record which can be searched at http://unlockingessex.essexcc.gov.uk.”

ML: “I can't make much of the first photo which looks like colonised beach or sand dune. Second photo seems to show a definite ring, possibly marked by a slight bank. It has been covered on the sea side by what I assume is sea wall, or maybe upturn by storms. Its form is so perfect that I suspect it may be modern, perhaps WWII?”

PS: “I have viewed via Internet the location indicated by Roger. The site has clearly been substantially eroded over the years. Coopers Beach was the site of a Royal Artillery battery during WWII. The site appears to have been a gun position. Please check with Fred Nash via ECC Archaeology unit, he has made a study of WWII gun/pill box locations. 
“If Roger lives near to the site it will be worthwhile to check the beach below the mark for any artefacts.
“Please keep me updated regarding interesting comments.”

NB: “Parch marks can be a bit tricky to interpret but your best bet would be to try someone with a specialist knowledge of air photo interpretation, Helen Saunders might be a good place to start  helen.saunders@essex.gov.uk “.