Letters from CA April 2020/May 2020

Remembering Richard Carlile

I thought this little-known fact about the Peterloo Massacre (see CA 357) really important when I came across it recently. It raises the whole issue of how / why people are remembered, and the frequent unfairness of it all.

Everyone with an interest in this shocking event will certainly know the name of Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt – that’s taken for granted – but have you heard of Richard Carlile? When you hear the importance of the part he played, you’ll marvel as I do at how he has been written out of the story. I first heard of the Massacre as a student in wartime, but have only just learnt Richard’s name at the age of 94.

Richard and his wife, Jane, first came to my notice thanks to a talk by Bob Forder of the National Secular Society in Gosport, a place with a tenuous claim to Richard in that he was married to Jane there. His importance lies in the fact that later he earned a living as one of the printers in the Fleet Street area of London, so hated by the authorities at that time for their support of the views of Thomas Paine expressed in his book, The Rights of Man. He and Jane were frequently imprisoned for their activities.

He was a wanted man when he actually appeared on the stage in St Peter’s Fields with Henry Hunt (he is the figure on the left of those depicted on the platform in the image above), but he could take the risk as he was not known in the North. Further, and what is more important, is that after interviewing a number of those still present, his was the first written and published account of the tragedy.

In view of this key piece of information, it is rather surprising, I feel, that his name has been so overlooked. He was also a fervent advocate of education for women and, our speaker claimed, the first advocate of birth control ever in this country.

Mary Duly

From Malta to Cowes

I have been a subscriber for a long time, and I was interested to see the photo in CA 360 (‘Your Stonehenge’) of Sergeant Observer Douglas Brian McLaren and his sister at Stonehenge shortly before he was posted to Malta. My father was Manager and Chief Engineer at The GasWorks, and my mother and I spent the war with him on the island, although my memories are hazy as I was not six until December 1942. We came back to England in 1945, arriving in Liverpool on the day that Japan surrendered. 

Another point of interest was the Isle of Wight Society (Odd Socs, CA 361). We lived at Cowes from 1946–1952 where I learnt to swim in the sea, sail, and go prawning. A favourite visit was Carisbrooke Castle [pictured below]; my favourite spot was the Well House, and the donkey was always given a treat, usually a carrot. When we took our children in the late 1970s this practice had been forbidden, obviously due to the greater number of visitors.

Keep up the good work.

Jennifer Stringer

imageS: Wikimedia Commons, Churchh
Wikimedia Commons, Church

The Consolidated Chapelry of Prestwood

Sherds (CA 361) describes the use by Ordnance Survey of meresmen, appointed by justices to measure the boundaries of a parish, often depending on ‘intangible heritage’. The ‘Consolidated Chapelry of Prestwood’, Buckinghamshire was described in great detail at a meeting of the Privy Council (PC) in the presence of Queen Victoria on 5 April 1852. The following extract gives a flavour of such a survey: ‘… thence three furlongs and one hundred and thirty two yards along such parish road, in an easterly direction, close to but on the North side of the homestead of such farm, to the hedge separating fields belonging to Mr Thomas Stevens and which hedge is two hundred and nine yards beyond the extremity next [to] such parish road of the land belonging to Anlow’s farm on the South side of such road: thence in a southwardly direction and in nearly a straight line one furlong and one hundred and forty three yards along such last-mentioned hedge…’

I am indebted to Ms Margaret Newell of the Privy Council Office for furnishing me with this information, required as background to a fund-raising exercise at our local church (Holy Trinity).

Dr Peter B Baker

Seashells on Sark

I was thrilled to read about Sark in such detail as our family and friends have been going there every year since 1960, we love it so much!

Wes Gibbons’ Sark geology book (The Rocks of Sark, 1975) mentioned a scattered layer of seashells above the high-water mark to the right at the foot of the path down to Derrible, which was obvious when we first started going but has disappeared now, either under vegetation or more likely destroyed by successive path alterations. Another layer was still visible just under the turf where the upright cannon stood down at Eperquerie Landing; these were supposed human food supplies / remains, but obviously we did not know the details found now of Sark’s ancient inhabitants. Next time I go, there will be even more to enjoy on Sark. Thank you.

Gillian Smith
Horsham, West Sussex

Coinage Question

A unique entry for AD 434 in the chronicles of Matthew Paris said that, ‘In this year, Britain ceased paying tribute to Rome.’ I have always wondered how much tribute the empire paid to Rome and whether it was in kind or in coin. If in coin, that might explain how coinage came to be drained out of Britain. When the army departed, coin would not have been sent to Britain for their pay. Roman nominees might still have been in control of British finance, at least for a while. Are late Roman coins, minted in Britain, found on the Continent?

Richard Durrant
Poole, Dorset

Edible Archaeology

At the latest AGM of the Richard III Society, members enjoyed this cake. It celebrates the 10th anniversary of the start of Philippa Langley’s original Looking For Richard Project. The king was found under a car park in Leicester [see CA 272 and 277], and by an amazing coincidence, ‘R’ marked the spot.

Image: Sue Scott-Buccleuch

What you shared with us this month

Dr Alexandra Makin @alexandra_makin
The new @CurrentArchaeo magazine has arrived and I’m not getting a look in. It’s got a train on the front so the little one has commandeered it. He keeps shouting, ‘Tren’. I’ll make an archaeologist out of him yet!

UHI Arch Inst @UHIArchaeology
Love it when #Orkney #Archaeology @Orkneycollege #ThinkUHI appears on back page map @CurrentArchaeo @OAS_Orkney

Marc Allum @Marc_Allum
Posty was early today….. @CurrentArchaeo always brightens me up!

AOC Archaeology @aocarchaeology
Delighted to see King’s Seat featured in @CurrentArchaeo. We loved working on this fab #pubarch project with @PKHeritageTrust (and look out for it featuring in our #ArchaeologicalAlphabet soon)

Ashmolean Museum @AshmoleanMuseum
We heard there were some #goats on the loose in #Llandudno, and this one looks like it wants in on the fun. This vase with a skidding goat motif is from Iran, and dates to 3500–3000BC. Let’s see your #LlandudnoGoats inspired creations! #IsolationCreations

Image: Ashmolean Museum.
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