ISSN 1357-4442Editor: Simon Denison

Issue no 37, September 1998


Patrick's grave

From Dr Barbara Yorke

Sir: In his article `Locating the birthplace of St Patrick' (July), Harry Jelley cites documentary evidence from the 12th century for the tradition that Patrick was buried at Glastonbury. However, the earliest reliable written evidence for the claim comes from the 10th century.

It includes a reference in the earliest Life of St Dunstan, written in about 1000, to how in Dunstan's early 10th century youth `Irish pilgrims, as well as other crowds of the faithful, cherished that place of Glastonbury . . . with great affection, especially in honour of the blessed Patrick the younger, who is said to rest there happily in the Lord'.

Yours faithfully,
King Alfred's College,
7 July

Viking influence

From Mr David Williams

Sir: I refer to the Factfile box in Andrew Rogerson's article on the Vikings in East Anglia (`Vikings and the new East Anglian towns', June). While Viking finds from East Anglia may well `easily outnumber those from other parts of the country', it is quite misleading to use the range of 11th century stirrup-strap mounts catalogued in my book, Late Saxon Stirrup-Strap Mounts, as examples.

Although many of these Late Saxon finds show Late Viking influence in their decoration, many do not. These mounts and their associated harness fittings are essentially insular products, many of which are likely to be of post-conquest date. Indeed a lot of the East Anglian mounts are poor copies of finer examples distributed across central southern and south-eastern England.

In addition, the greater quantity of these mounts from East Anglia will to some extent reflect the increased metal detector activity in this region.

At the time these mounts appear to have been introduced, along with the stirrup, England was ruled by the Danish king Cnut. What is perhaps surprising is the extent of the Viking influence in everyday objects throughout England, and not just in East Anglia.

Yours sincerely,
18 June

Temple Pyx date

From Mr Quentin Hawkins

Sir: In Trevor Rowley's article on Norman England (`All change after the Norman Conquest', June), a caption to a photograph of the Temple Pyx describes it as dating from the 14th-15th century. With its Romanesque arcading it is clearly 12th century, and the weapons and armour depicted suggest the first half of that century.

The Temple Pyx is a bronze-gilt ornament, which presumably once adorned a small reliquary. Its subject matter is probably the Holy Sepulchre, with the guards failing to notice the disapperance of Christ's body (Matthew 28 xi-xv); or they could be King Herod's soldiers, failing to notice St Peter escaping from prison (Acts 12 v-xix).

It featured in the Arts Council exhibition of English Romanesque art in 1984, and can be seen as evidence for the cultural impact of the Norman conquest.

Yours faithfully,
London SE25
9 June

Editor's note: The Temple Pyx is held in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow. The photograph we used, which came from the Burrell Collection, carried a label dating the ornament to the 14th-15th century. The Burrell Collection have since confirmed that the label was incorrect and the ornament dates from the 12th century.

A correction

From Dr Aubrey Burl

Sir: I regret a careless error in my letter about the latitude of Stonehenge and the sun and moon (Letters, June). In the fifth paragraph the sentence containing `the azimuths or compass-bearings of midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset ... ' should have read `the azimuths of the midsummer sunrise and the most northerly setting of the moon . . . '

Yours sincerely,
28 July

Saving monuments

From Mrs Helen Paterson

Sir: Having read Richard Morris's comment article on the results of English Heritage's Monuments at Risk Survey, or MARS (`Measuring the destruction of monuments', June), I am tempted to inject a ray of hope.

Several of English Heritage's proposals for the preservation of the historic environ-ment are already being undertaken in a few counties, with Norfolk in the forefront of implementing `proactive' projects. The Norfolk Archaeological Trust has purchased several important sites ensuring long-term management.

In addition, the Norfolk Monuments Management Project has been in existence for seven years, for which I am the part-time Project Officer. The aim of this project is that I should visit every significant earthwork site recorded on the county's SMR, whether or not they are currently scheduled, by the year 2000. Some 400 have already been visited.

So far 43 grant-aided management agreements have been signed, and 200 landouners have agreed to carry out beneficial management, or continue good stewardship without grant aid. Earthwork surveys at a scale of 1:1,000 are being prepared for every site likely to be of schedulable quality.

Close liaison is maintained with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, county and district countryside officers, and the Farming and Rural Conservation Agency. Slide presentations have been given to NFU branches and visits made with the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group to farmland where there is a historic component. Regular articles appear in the local and farming press. Recently a programme of beneficial work on an important motte and bailey castle received wide media coverage on local television, radio and in the press.

The MARS results have highlighted areas of concern. However, the Norfolk experience shows that not all is doom and gloom. The measures undertaken under the Norfolk Monuments Management Project, in one of England's most arable counties, have certainly lessened the incidence of damage. Interest and co-operation in the positive management of the county's historic sites by farmers and landowners has become an integral part of the Norfolk agricultural scene.

Yours sincerely,
Castle Acre,
25 June

Return to the British Archaeology homepage

Return to the CBA homepage

© Council for British Archaeology, 1998