HISTORY NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2021
Live talks are back!
We are delighted that the November lecture will be held live. Imogen Corrigan, a Society favourite, will be talking on ‘Stone on Stone: the men who built the cathedrals’ at 7.30pm on Thursday 18 November in the Main Hall, Battle Memorial Hall. We are hoping to stream the lecture live for those who wish to still access lectures in this way but there will not be a recording on YouTube. We will circulate a link to members the day before the lecture so that those who wish to view remotely can log on in the normal way.
The AGM will precede the lecture at 7.00 pm: please note that this will not be streamed so if you wish to attend, you will need to come in person.
The Membership desk will be situated in the St Valery Room to help avoid congestion. If you have not already renewed your membership, please can we ask that you pay by bank transfer in advance of the lecture – you can pay BY CARD on the night but you will be helping us to avoid queues by paying in advance.
Free standing chairs will be set out and can be arranged to socially distance if you wish; you will not be required to wear a mask but, of course, you are welcome to do so. If any of you are able to come at 6.00 pm to help put out the chairs, that would be very helpful.
Refreshments will be available.
Please note that these arrangements are subject to any amendments to Government guidelines.
We look forward to seeing you!
The Museum has decided to close until the end of the season. Volunteer anxieties about Covid infection rates given the confined space and disruption from the Almonry works continuing into October are among the reasons. We look forward to seeing you again in 2022, when the dedicated volunteers are bound to show you something you’ve not noticed before.
Browsing in Battle
The 2nd Edition of Neil Clephane-Cameron and Keith Foord’s BDHS bestseller ‘1066 and the Battle of Hastings’ has just been released. It is available from our very own on-line store here. It is 20 pages longer than the 3rd printing of the first edition and contains new insights into the protagonists and better images of the Bayeux Tapestry thanks to the generosity of the Bayeux Museum. It is the second book that BDHS has produced by Print on Demand (PoD) following George Kiloh’s ‘Characters of Battle’, which is also available along with our other titles from our web shop. They are also in stock at Rother Books. As they are PoD they can also be found via many online bookshops around the World via special distribution from Ingrams, our printer!
Two modern history sites have been brought to notice. The first is from Archive.Com, an amazing on- line depository of information, freely available to use. The Research group use it all the time to hunt for old elusive books and papers. But they have also been archiving old web sites dating back to the birth of the Internet. Websites have an annoying habit of disappearing or changing and sometimes very valuable information disappears with them, so Archve.Com had the foresight and ability to set about recording them all! There is a small video about this at “https://archive.org/details/wayback-machine-1996/The+Wayback+Machine’s+First+Crawl+1996+–with+subtitles.mp4
And Historic England have launched a fascinating new website site about the English record of archaeology mapped from the air. Of particular interest in our area are the records of World War 2 defences from old RAF and German images, plus spots of ancient field systems. The positions of lost Martello towers are there too. See https://historicengland.org.uk/research/results/aerial-archaeology-mapping-explorer/
History in the News
Footsteps in the sand: discovered in 2017, footprints left in beach sediment near Trachilos in Crete have been found to have been left by man’s ancestors 6 million years ago, 2 million years before the tracks of hominin ‘Lucy’, which were discovered in Africa in 1974. Scientists say that they are the oldest direct evidence of a human-like foot used for walking and were made when Crete was part of the Greek mainland.
Neanderthal life: Earl Spencer had arranged for a team from the Oxford Institute of Digital Archaeology to survey land on his Althorp estate to search for the lost medieval village of Olletrop, which was abandoned after the Black Death. They are still searching for the village but have found pieces of worked seashell which have been carbon-dated to more than 40,000 years ago. They are not thought to be remains of a meal as Althorp is far from the coast and they have been worked: they would be decoration or jewellery. Pieces of worked antler and flints were also found.
Crusader sword: an amateur diver has found a sword thought to have belonged to a crusader knight 900 years ago – researchers posit that it could be linked to the nearby crusaders’ citadel at Atlit. The 3.3 ft blade is in perfect condition, although covered in marine organisms and very heavy – its owner would have been very strong. It was found in the Carmel Coast, which provided shelter for ships during storms throughout centuries of shipping along the cost.
Vikings in America: a new dating technique analysing tree rings has established that Vikings had a settlement in North America a 1000 years ago. Scientists said they had analysed the tree rings of three pieces of wood cut for the Norse settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows: using an atmospheric radiocarbon signal produced by a dated solar storm as a reference, they were able to pin the exact felling year of the tree to 1021. The association of these pieces of wood with the Norse is based on previous, detailed research by Parks Canada.
HMS Victory: a 127-year old farthing has been found under the mast of Lord Nelson’s flagship -it was found during restoration work and would have been put there for good luck. The tradition dates back to Roman times and continues to this day. It dates to 1894 when the masts were replaced: although corroded, it once showed Queen Victoria’s head on one side and Britannia on the other, with a lighthouse in the background. The coin is now on display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, next to the Victory’s dry dock at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Richborough Roman Amphitheatre: archaeologists on the English Heritage site have discovered the carcer, or holding cell, where criminals and gladiators in Roman Britain waited to meet their deaths before a baying crowd: it would have held about five people. The room had previously been misidentified as a passageway to the arena. A more uplifting discovery was the almost-complete skeleton of a cat which appeared to have been given a burial rather than being left in the street – the team named him ‘Maxipus’ after Russell Crowe’s character, Maximus, in the film Gladiator.
Nelson’s sea shanties: during lockdown, the manager of the collection at the Museum of London, found music books that contained four obscure songs, one of which was previously unknown composition by William Douglas, 4th Duke of Queensbury. They were found among the papers of Lady Hamilton. Hamilton wrote on two pieces that Douglas was the author; the lyrics of the other two were recorded by newspapers but the scores had not survived elsewhere. All four songs will be heard for the first time in more than 200 years at a concert on 11 December at the Museum of London Docklands.
Other history articles in the press: If any member spots an interesting history article, just email us a scan of it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature an edited version of it in the next Newsletter.
The Arts Society Rother Valley (ASRV)
The ASRV still has talks on cultural topics during the rest of its season until April 2022. Topics include: the lute in Old Master paintings; Frederick the Great; the Baroque; the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II; medieval gold and enamel work; and the impact of Handel on 300 years of British culture. Please first check the ASRV website https://www.theartssocietyrothervalley.org.uk or talk with Jenny Fairfax on 01424 421344.
Online Archive Update – September 2021
Exciting news! We now have a great new resource available online. The original Battle Town Index, identified by advisers from the National Archives as potentially the most important item in our archive, was recorded on a series of Index cards. Members of our Society started the Index with the aim of recording information on the use and occupants of all the buildings in the town centre. Information, gleaned mainly from trade and other directories, was recorded up to the early 1990s. The online version of the Index has been edited so that beyond 1940 only information on businesses and a few private individuals reasonably assumed now dead have been included in the online version. This complies with the recommendations of the National Archives on publication of material which is covered by the Data Protection Act. It still, however, provides a wealth of information and is found in our online archive as a series of searchable .pdf files. Go to our archive page The Battle & District Historical Society Archives http://bdhsarchives.com and search for Battle Town Index to see the available .pdf files. When you have downloaded the file you can find the search function by clicking on the magnifying glass symbol and entering your search term.
The British Library is going to archive our website in the UK Web Archive and to make it publicly available via that route. The UK Web Archive was established in 2004 to capture and archive websites from the UK domain and across the web, responding to the challenge of a digital black hole in the nations memory. It contains specially selected websites that represent different aspects of UK heritage on the web, as well as important global events. We work closely with leading international institutions to collect and permanently preserve the web, and the open UK Web Archive can be seen at http://www.webarchive.org.uk/.
Also an on-line version of the BDHS Journal for 2019 has been added – see Previous BDHS Journals
Meet our new President
Our new President, Professor David Bates, gave his inaugural lecture entitled ‘Writing a Biography of William the Conqueror’ at a very well attended meeting on 16 January. His presentation was well received and afterwards David had the opportunity to meet many members of the Society and be photographed with all members of the BDHS Committee. He also gave another lecture – by Zoom on 15th October. This was about ‘New thoughts on the Bayeux Tapestry’.
Meeting with the new Dean of Battle
The new Dean of Battle, the Very Reverend Lee Duckett, together with his wife Ange, has been presented with some books from BDHS members Keith Foord and Tina Greene, which are concerned with the Church and the Battle Tapestry, currently on display there. BDHS hopes to develop some mutually beneficial projects based on the church’s archives and the use of the church environmental space for exhibitions etc..
The Dark Ages’ greatest Christmas relics were at Battle Abbey
The Guardian and other media have reported that a medieval manuscript listing Battle Abbey’s relics has been analysed and transcribed for the first time by English Heritage historian Michael Carter. It reveals that the relics were the most prestigious given to any abbey, more significant even than those at Westminster Abbey.
A report on this can be found at https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/dec/18/a-bit-of-manger-st-nicholass-bone-the-dark-ages-greatest-christmas-relics.Michael Carter’s paper can also be found in full using this reference: Carter, M: The Relics of Battle Abbey: A Fifteenth-Century Inventory at The Huntington Library, San Marino The Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies 8 (2019)
Video: The Battle of Hastings. No – the Battle of Battle!!
BDHS Members Michael Hodge, Alan Judd and Peter Greene, working in close cooperation with Natasha Williams of English Heritage, have produced a video explaining where the Battle of Hastings actually took place and why we have a town called Battle. The video has been released by Mirador Television and can be found via Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDe8uyKXL9Y
Amazing find by BDHS
In the process of changing over BDHS archivists Gina Doherty and David Sawyer unexpectedly turned up an old small parchment that appeared to originate from Abbot Richard Tovey of Battle Abbey in 1493. Christopher Whittick of ESRO confirmed its authenticity This is a ‘pass’ entitling the carrier to travel freely in England and quoting the old charter rights of the abbey. Gina has produced an excellent summary of this find which can be read in Section A3.4 of Collectanea. BDHS has also given a facsimile copy to Battle Abbey for future display.
L-R: Neil Clephane-Cameron, Keith Foord, George Kiloh, Gina Doherty, Natasha Williams (English Heritage) handing the parchment to Christopher Whittick (Vide-President of BDHS). Picture Peter Greene