CBA North News
Our email to you this time is another mixture of content – from a number of sources also – and from around the CBA North region.
Following our usual events listing for the remains of June, we’ve a contribution from a member on how archaeology has inspired their artistic work and studies, something looking ahead to a conference in October (not that we are wishing summer away already), notes on recent publications, posters for events (including one happening on Saturday) and throughout the summer, as well as a book sale. There is so much yet to come in the intervening months, such as July’s Festival of Archaeology no less!
As ever we continue to keep our Events website page up-to-date with details – three further talks have been added, as well as the title of another now confirmed, on that page since our last email to you. Please let us know any additions or alterations to that page or indeed the listing below.
CBA North Committee
June and July Events 2019
3 June – Gods and heroes: public and private in Pompeian houses, Dr Thea Ravesi [BAS]
5 June – Riding West: Roman Cavalry Tombstones at Hexham & Beyond, Lindsay Allason-Jones [TILLVAS]
25 June – The Yarm Helmet, Chris Caple [TAS]
26 June – Paints and Pigments in the Past: colouring in the Roman Frontiers, Louisa Campbell [SOCANTS]
13 July – Work in Thebes, Jose Manuel Galan [NEAES]
20 July – The Archaeology of Domestic Innovation in the Country House, Prof Marilyn Palmer [ARCH & ARCH]
31 July – From Women’s Rights to Human Rights: How the Struggle for the Vote Changed the World, Rosie Serdiville [SOCANTS]
Archaeology, Pots and back again (twice): a member explains all
Lorraine Clay, both a member of Tynedale Archaeology and CBA North groups, as well as potter has sent us this short article on how archaeology inspires her artistic work. She writes;
‘I’m a ceramic artist who draws inspiration from archaeology, this is ponderings on archaeology and pottery.
I’ve always been interested in Archaeology since Dad took us to The Wall when children and finding rock art with Mum as a teenager. When I studied A Level Archaeology in 1990 for something to do after work, I couldn’t have imagined the path that it would take. The A Level was so disorganised that I swore I would never do another qualification and looked for a leisure evening class: woodwork was daytime so I plumped for pottery.
One of my first pieces was directly inspired by Scottish Celtic crosses, then direct influences came from visiting Minoan sites in Greece: these included the 6’ tall storage jars in Malia with coils as thick as an arm, and the curious kernos vessels in Heraklion Museum. You can learn a lot from copying something – such as the challenges the potter faced – one Greek pot I was having trouble with the handles, I put my mind in the place of a hot tired potter who wanted to drink Raki in the shade, and there it was! The simplest and quickest method looked just right.
A Cretan Krater
As I approached 13 years with the Civil Service I took the plunge to devote myself to becoming a full-time potter. I began studies at Newcastle College and for four years sold work in galleries and exhibitions and ran evening classes. In 2006 I commenced the Contemporary Ceramics degree at Newcastle and was accepted to be the pottery tutor for Ashmore House, an NHS mental health daycentre. Newcastle gave me the impetus to be more experimental and I began weathering clay, a technique I still practice today.
Weathering is inspired by mortality: a fingerprint survives on a Minoan storage jar, a Neolithic vessel is patterned with nail impressions but the potter is long gone. A cat’s paw-print on a Roman roof tile…
Like ceramics we believe we are immortal, living for tomorrow we stay in unsatisfying jobs until walking home in a gale a dislodged gargoyle takes us out. (I heard this story many years ago on the radio of a man dying this way after gales in Scotland; googling it now I find a US woman died in 2014 from a falling gargoyle – maybe it’s not rare at all!).
We are more like unfired clay, endangered by random circumstances, wind and rain. I think this is why I joined Altogether Archaeology: too many years had gone by without digging, I couldn’t resist any more: my knees were in remission. On my first molehill survey I found a jet bead and was hooked again. And it seemed natural to get permission to take a little of the clay we dug up home!
Lorraine at the Whitley Castle mole-hill survey
In 2016 I took a chance and applied to the Ness of Brodgar and was euphoric when I was accepted!
Weathered bowl before firing (above), weathering and wood-fired (below left and right respectively)
Sometimes I use archive materials and clay from archaeological sites. For an exhibition at the Durham Oriental Museum I morphed cuneiform envelopes into curvaceous “promise boxes” using Forest Hall clay following their ancient Middle East counterparts.
For a second exhibition I was delighted with a label just bearing the name Petrie on one vase: I made pieces celebrating the people, including Flinders Petrie, in the chain that had brought the artefact to Durham using clay from digs. William Thacker, who set up the Oriental Museum, is shown by the transfer print which on smoke-fired Low Hauxley clay.
When the daycentre closed it didn’t take long to become bored. I heard you didn’t need an archaeology degree to do an Archaeology postgraduate course, so I contacted Antonia Thomas at UHI (University of the Highlands and Islands), who told me she was starting an Art and Archaeology module the following week!
3 Orkney clays: Back row – unfired with shell: unfired without shell
Front row – fired with shell: unfired without shell.
I enjoyed it so much I applied to UHI and Durham to do an MA in Archaeology, focusing especially on the British Neolithic. Deciding between the two was one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make! Two terms in and I find myself writing about ceramics not rock art – in Dolni Vestonice, Gravettian finger fluting, materials analysis: before I knew it, I was suggesting Clay in the Palaeolithic for my dissertation! Watch this space!…….’
[Many thanks to Lorraine for writing this article; if this has inspired you or you want to share your own archaeological inspiration, perhaps in different ways, please feel free to send us a short article to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for our next issue].
Tullie House Conference
Elsa Price of Tullie House Museum, Carlisle, and Kate Sharpe of Durham University have sent us the poster below on a busy October weekend they are planning on the prehistory of the Cumbrian area. If you are interested in the day, read on and follow up through the contact details given – contributions from all are most welcome!
(Fairly recent) Tees Archaeology publications
From recent the River Tees Rediscovered Landscape Partnership, Tees Archaeology have fairly recently published a pair of short booklets The First Great Civil War in the Tees Valley and Industry in the Tees Valley. These short well-illustrated freely-available booklets give introductions to the many sites of particular note for their respective subjects.
Whilst many other Civil War battlefields and sieges are known across CBA North’s region, the first of these highlights many of the smaller skirmishes that rarely figure in the national literature. This booklet was written by Robin Daniels and Phil Philo. A further leaflet for the Piercebridge encounter described is also available further down the website page mentioned below.
Industry upon Teesside, however, needs no introduction. However sites familiar and unfamiliar are dealt with in the booklet by Alan Betteney, for the whole variety of Teesside industries, though this is a rather larger file to download. Nevertheless both of these are freely available as downloads from the Tees Archaeology website Downloads page.
TillVAS’ Iron Age Day
Equally industriously in the north of Northumberland, this Saturday sees the Till Valley Archaeology Society hold an Iron Age Day. The poster below gives details of what you can expect, inside and out, at Etal Village Hall to give more of a background and context to their recent excavations at nearby Mardon Farm.
CBA National’s June Booksale
CBA North members might be interested to know that CBA National is having a Spring Sale on publications. They have reduced prices on more than 75 books including many of our recent Research Reports and Practical Handbooks. Their online shop can be visited here. The sale ends on 30 June 2019 so ideal for finding some holiday reading and/or post-exam relaxation.
Prehistoric Pioneers: an Exhibition and Events
Charley Robson, of Durham University’s Prehistoric Pioneers Education and Outreach Team, has written to let us know of this exhibition. She writes;
‘The Prehistoric Pioneers exhibition is now open to the public at the Durham Museum of Archaeology, Palace Green, Durham, until 24 November 2019. The exhibition explores life in ancient Britain, from warfare to rituals, and the way Bronze Age people buried weapons and treasure in hidden hoards. Curated by the Durham’s MA Museum and Artefact Studies students, this exhibition gives a face to prehistoric people and challenges the idea that these were primitive cultures.
To coincide with the exhibition, a pair of talks have been planned to take place on the 20 and 24 June and which are detailed in the poster below. Some more details on these events are given below for those who might be interested to attend. Booking information is given through the poster and places can be booked in emailing email@example.com. Further information on the exhibition, including that available who cannot get to Durham themselves, as a series of podcasts is available here‘.