Tag Archives: Jacquetta Hawkes

News Update: two new exhibitions

We’ll be back with the final three Objects soon!  We put them on hold to get our archives accreditation sorted out – and not to mention working on two exhibitions which readers of this blog may enjoy …

Pots Before Words.  Kate Morrell created artworks inspired by Jacquetta Hawkes.  Gallery II, University of Bradford, until 22 May 2014.

Pots_before_words_GII-500x749

Artwork by Kate Morrell, part of Pots Before Words at Gallery II. Credit: Kate Morrell.

J.B. Priestley soldier writer painter – a rare chance to see the fragile surviving objects from Priestley’s time in the First World War trenches.  Bradford Industrial Museum until 19 August 2014.

We’ve also been busy with the Peace Studies 40th anniversary conference. We’re contributing two elements to this international conference: a display (A Concern for Peace) telling the story of the department and a paper about our wonderful collections of peace-related archives.  1-3 May 2014.  If you aren’t going to the conference, you can find similar information by exploring our Objects!

 

96. A Pattern of Invasions and Occupations: Jacquetta Hawkes and the Archaeology of Jersey

The Channel Island of Jersey is extraordinarily rich in archaeological remains.  Key sites include La Cotte de St Brelade (a cave filled with Neanderthal stone tools and the bones of mammoths and rhinos) and La Hougue Bie, a prehistoric grave mound topped by a medieval chapel.  Jacquetta Hawkes explored this heritage in her first book: The Archaeology of the Channel Islands: Volume II The Bailiwick of Jersey.

Pen drawings of flints from Les Quennevais and Le Pinacle (The Pinnacle), Jersey, published in The Bailiwick of Jersey by Jacquetta Hawkes pp 66 and 168. Archive ref HAW 1/14.

Pen drawings of flints from Les Quennevais and Le Pinacle (The Pinnacle), Jersey, published in The Bailiwick of Jersey, by Jacquetta Hawkes, pp 66 and 168. Archive reference HAW 1/14.

Volume I, covering the archaeology of Guernsey, had been published by Methuen in 1928.  Its author, Thomas Kendrick, worked at the British Museum, as did Jacquetta’s husband Christopher.  Kendrick had done much of the research for a second volume, on Jersey, by 1934, but “an increase in other work, and a growing distaste for the stones and bones of prehistory” meant that he was glad to put the task into Jacquetta’s “capable hands”.

Jacquetta had recently married Christopher; both were becoming known as exceptional young archaeologists.  Jacquetta was particularly well placed to take on the Jersey project. As J.G.D. Clark pointed out, “Her cave experience in Palestine  … made her sympathetic to one of Jersey’s chief glories, the Cotte de Brelade, while her own distinguished researches into the Neolithic pottery of France … equipped her to deal with the megalithic backbone of the island’s pre-history”.

From left, Christopher & Jacquetta Hawkes, with unknown man (possibly a Jersey connection?), 1930s.  Archive reference: HAW 18/3/46/1.

From left, Christopher & Jacquetta Hawkes, with unknown man (possibly a Jersey connection?), 1930s. Archive reference: HAW 18/3/46/1.

Part IV of The Bailiwick of Jersey, detailed descriptions of individual archaeological sites, was largely Kendrick’s work.  However, Parts I-III were written by Jacquetta herself and reflect changes in archaeological thought since the original volume: she took a more hypothetical and conceptual approach to the subject.  Although this volume was her first publication, she already demonstrated qualities that were to distinguish her writing in the future, bringing together a huge range of sources and ideas to create a coherent, clear and readable account.  Jacquetta’s biographer Dr Christine Finn observes the clarity and ambition of the green exercise book, “Jersey arch. Notes”, in which the book took shape, and the “lyrical” introduction.

Detail from the front cover of "Jersey Arch. Notes" the exercise book in which Jacquetta Hawkes planned The Bailiwick of Jersey.  Archive ref HAW 1/11

Detail from the front cover of “Jersey Arch. Notes” the exercise book in which Jacquetta Hawkes planned The Bailiwick of Jersey. Archive ref HAW 1/11

The Jersey volume is a fine example of Jacquetta collaborating with other archaeologists, as she did later on for the Festival of Britain.  In particular, she drew on the efforts of the Société Jersiaise (who published the book).  Jacquetta’s Archive documents her extensive correspondence with key researchers including Emile Guiton, responsible for the photographs in the book, N.V.L. Rybot, who created most of the line drawings, R.R. Marett, H.L. Stapleton, and Arthur Mourant.  She also gathered older research material which is now part of her Archive, notably an important collection of 1870s letters by Philippe Langlois on Jersey antiquities.

The Bailiwick of Jersey was well received by archaeologists.  It made Jacquetta’s name and enabled her to become a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.  The book remains an essential resource for anyone interested in the Island’s prehistory.

Front cover of The Archaeology of the Channel Islands.  Vol. II The Bailiwick of Jersey.  Tom Kendrick and Jacquetta Hawkes

The flints illustrated above lead us to another aspect of Jacquetta’s first book and of Jersey’s archaeology, which has been explored by Dr Finn.  The top row of flints came from “… a considerable piece of ground in the sandy terrain of the Lower Quennevais [which] is still scarred by the last traces of the Prisoners-of-War Camp which was established there during the Great War” and were revealed by “the disturbance of the occupation and dismantling of this camp, followed by a severe storm”.

The story of the flints and their finding exemplifies Jersey’s own turbulent story.  Its closeness to mainland Europe led to easy contact with other communities, often resulting in invasion, occupation and the presence of refugees.   Jacquetta paid particular attention to this narrative in her sections of The Bailiwick of Jersey.  Her approach seems horribly prescient given what was to come soon after the long-delayed publication of the volume, in 1939.  The Nazis invaded Jersey in June 1940 and it was occupied until the end of the Second World War.

Jacquetta’s book thus has an added value and resonance as the record of a landscape about to change forever, where (as at La Hougue Bie and many other sites) “gun emplacements, bunkers and other observation posts” were built on the same “exceptional vantage points” chosen by the prehistoric peoples for their buildings.

Quotations.  The Bailiwick of Jersey, Clark’s review in Man, Vol. 40 (July 1940), pp. 107-108 (available via JSTOR), Christine Finn’s articleArtefacts of Occupation” in Artefacts Consortium Publications Vol. 5 and her online biography of Jacquetta.

Note on dates: The Bailiwick of Jersey has no publication date.  Jacquetta’s Preface is dated April 1937, hence library catalogue records and bibliographies may give the date as 1937 or 1938.  The date of 1939 is correct, as far as I can ascertain.

Note on creator of drawings: In the absence of information on the flint drawings themselves, we have in the past attributed them to Jacquetta.  The pencil annotations are certainly hers.  However, the phrasing of her Preface to Bailiwick now leads me to think that the drawings might be by Rybot, but the sketchy nature of other drawings on the same graph paper brings me back to Jacquetta.  I will continue to investigate this.

90. Whither Archaeology? Jacquetta Hawkes versus the statniks

In 1968, Jacquetta Hawkes considered the future of archaeology in one of her most famous and controversial pieces of writing: “The Proper Study of Mankind”, published in the journal Antiquity.

Jacquetta Hawkes in a garden, 1969 (ref HAW 18/6/43).

Jacquetta Hawkes, 1969 (reference HAW 18/6/43).

In this article, Jacquetta warned against the dangers of scientific reductionism in archaeology.  She certainly was not against the use of technological aids, but she felt that these had taken over along with pseudo-scientific aims and methods:   archaeologists had become “statniks”, looking only at what could be quantified.

Too much archaeological writing was “swamped by a vast accumulation of insignificant facts, like a terrible tide of mud”.  In another geological simile, the “extreme precision of detail” combined with “endless uncertainty of interpretation” in archaeological reports was like “walking across coarse scree”.  Instead, archaeologists should be economical in presenting their data and “extract the essential historical meaning … set this out in clear, firm and humane language”.

Archaeologists were also paying less attention to human attainment, consciousness and individuality: “art and religion receive very little of the serious attention that is available in our world of archaeology”.  More could be learned from art historians, psychologists and folklore experts as well as natural scientists.

An editorial in the next issue of the journal observed that the article had “aroused widespread comment”, mainly from archaeologists over 40!  Antiquity therefore announced an essay competition for the under-40s: “Professors,  archaeological correspondents, Druids, moonrakers – anyone may put in”.   The essay title would be “Whither Archaeology?”  (the original holding title for Jacquetta’s piece).  The two prize winners were published in the journal in 1971.  One, by Glynn Isaac, is an interesting response to the points made by Jacquetta by an author who did not agree with her view of archaeology or its relationship to the humanities.

Further responses can be found in letters to Jacquetta in her Archive.  Whole-hearted praise:  “Three cheers … the statniks needed taking down a peg or two”.    A couple of writers observed that the archaeological research she criticised was bad science anyway: “many of the people would not be very good at any sort of research … you underrate the creative and selective role that a competent natural scientist plays.”

Over the next few years, Jacquetta became “an established champion of old-time humanist values in archaeology” as the debate continued.  Eloquent in writing and in person, and “a free-range individual with no academic eggs to break”, she wrote, lectured and appeared in discussions on radio and television.   In one television programme, she opposed Professor Lewis Binford, a founder of the “new” or “processual” archaeology.  “To me his long abstractions were almost without meaning, while to him I must have appeared as something out of the rotting woodwork”.

Jacquetta Hawkes outside Kissing Tree House, 1973 (reference HAW 18/7/8).

Jacquetta Hawkes outside the Priestleys’ home Kissing Tree House, 1973 (reference HAW 18/7/8).

This concern that she is “suffering from the sense of universal decay that so often invades the passing generation” appears in Jacquetta’s article.  To some younger archaeologists excited by the potential of the new models, Jacquetta’s ideas did indeed seem “desperately out of date” (Clive Gamble in his Guardian obituary of Binford).   However her approach appealed at least to some budding archaeologists: one letterwriter exclaimed, “Why couldn’t you have written the article two years ago?  You would have inspired at least a handful of originally enthusiastic undergraduates who are now reduced to a state of cowed apathy by the hot wind of turgid technological detail …”

Sources.  The articles in Antiquity can be read online by staff and students of the University of Bradford and other organisations which subscribe to the title.  Jacquetta quotations are from “Proper Study” or the preface to Nothing But or Something More, her John Danz lecture against reductionism.  Letters quoted are in HAW 3/14.

A Cabinet of Gems

No new Object this week – we’re slowing the pace a little because the last few entries are having to be researched and written from scratch.

Meanwhile you might like another of our online creations, A Cabinet of Gems.  I’m using this to highlight amazing images from the collections, like this beautiful 1920s design found among the photographs of Jacquetta Hawkes.

1920s girl with headscarf on photo wallet from Camrbidge camera shop, HAW 18/2/5.

1920s girl with headscarf on photo wallet from Cambridge camera shop, HAW 18/2/5.

While we’re away …

We’re taking a little break, to edit broken links in our older stories, do some technical tweaks and research the final twenty.  Back in March!

Statue1gifMeanwhile, if you’re interested in J.B. Priestley, the J.B. Priestley Society has plenty to offer you!

The Society’s spring event explores the relatively unknown links between Priestley and another great British author.  Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess liked J.B. Priestley’s Image Men so much he read it ten times!   Dr Andrew Biswall, Director of the Burgess Foundation, explains, at this free event in Manchester on 16 March.  Full details on the Society website or see our Facebook event.

66. A Magical Hare and a Crock of Gold: Jacquetta’s “First and Last” Dig,

This lovely photograph shows the archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes sitting on a rock, wearing wellingtons.  We believe it was taken in Ireland during the summer of 1939.

Jacquetta was in Ireland on her first excavation in sole charge: working on the megalithic Harristown Passage Tomb in County Waterford.  She had of course been involved in many other digs, including the one already discussed, at Mount Carmel.  This one was archaeologically productive but otherwise difficult and strange:  dull hotel full of priests whom (she felt) were hostile to her work, dreadful food, particularly unskilled workers …

It was also overshadowed by events in Europe.  Jacquetta wrote to her husband Christopher Hawkes that “there is certain to be a war because the Mahrs are packing up everything, and are obviously leaving in a hurry”.   Adolf Mahr was the German archaeologist in charge of Irish archaeology whose permission Jacquetta needed to do the dig; it later emerged that he had been head of Nazi intelligence in Ireland!

The builders of the tomb left little evidence (bones, an axe-amulet and a pebble), but later Bronze Age people had used the tomb to bury the cremated remains of their dead: the excavators found funeral urns plus “a pygmy cup, a bronze blade, stone bead and bone needles or pins”.

Last to leave on the day these finds were made, Jacquetta covered the urns and secured the tomb.  “As she bicycled back to the dreary hotel she was met to her surprise by a long procession of people making their way to the tomb  … rumour had spread that a magical hare, the guardian of the tomb, had been disturbed, and that a crock had been discovered which, on the stroke of midnight, would prove to be full of golden coins …”

This dig was to be her last.  As for so many people, the War which came completely changed the pattern of Jacquetta’s life.   She spent most of the time in  London with her husband Christopher Hawkes, who was working for the Ministry of Aircraft Production – their son Nicolas and his nanny remained in the relative safety of Cambridge.  Jacquetta also found work in the civil service (where she excelled).   However, she did not take this comfortable route post-war, nor did she return to academia and excavation.

Instead, she combined her formidable intellect and her considerable visual and artistic talents to become a rather new kind of archaeologist, still very much engaged with academic discoveries, but sharing her knowledge and passion for the subject in exciting new ways.  Poetry, journalism, film, radio and television, the Festival of Britain, and a great variety of published books, most notably the compelling and genre-transcending trio: A Land, Man on Earth, and Man and the Sun.

A note on sources
I am indebted for the above quotation and Jacquetta’s memories of the Waterford dig to Diana Collins’ Time and the Priestleys. An overview from an archaeological perspective can be found on the Prehistoric Waterford site.  Jacquetta’s scholarly article on her discoveries was published as “Excavation of a Megalithic tomb at Harristown, Co Waterford”  in The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Seventh Series, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Dec. 31, 1941), pp. 130-147 (available here in electronic form to University of Bradford and other subscribers to JSTOR).

61. J.B. at the JBPL: The Opening of the J.B. Priestley Library, 18 October 1975

On 18 October 1975, J.B. Priestley opened the Library that bears his name at the University of Bradford.  We know a great deal about the opening ceremony thanks to files in the University Archive and this week’s Object, an album of photographs taken on the day and presented to Priestley as a memento.   This later returned to the University as part of Priestley’s Archive.

Presentation slip in album commemorating opening of J.B. Priestley Library 1975Proceedings began the night before with a small dinner party in “one of the private dining rooms” in the main building.  The menu survives: Florida Cocktail or Spring Vegetable Soup, then sole, lamb, and Cherry Cheese Cake.  Harold Wilson, the University’s first Chancellor and Prime Minister at the time, wrote to Vice-Chancellor Ted Edwards that “the warmth of the occasion surpassed even the high quality of the cuisine”.

Priestley and Harold Wilson looking at book by shelves in new J.B. Priestley Library

Priestley and Harold Wilson looking at book by shelves in new J.B. Priestley Library

On the day, the Chancellor and Priestley spoke, Priestley unveiled a plaque, then the party toured the new building and had a buffet lunch before the University car whizzed the Priestleys back to their home in Stratford.  The event was planned to the last detail, including the whereabouts of umbrellas and keeping the lift free for Priestley to use (he was then over eighty).

Harold Wilson and J.B. Priestley, with pipes

Harold Wilson and J.B. Priestley, with pipes

The new Library building (which was supplemented by an extension in the 1990s) was five levels high, one floor occupied by the Computer Centre.   The publicity campaign emphasised what was described as a “whole phalanx of mechanical and electronic aids to ease the paths of users” of both services.  The rapid expansion of the University from the Bradford Institute of Technology had put considerable pressure on library services.  The new building transformed what was possible for staff and students.   From the 1959 situation of two rooms crammed with 9,000 out of date books (which could not be browsed) staffed by two assistants, 1975 offered students over 200,000 volumes, 53 professional and support staff and a pioneering system of subject librarians offering specialist help.

Brochure for J.B. Priestley Library and Computer Centre 1975

Brochure for J.B. Priestley Library and Computer Centre 1975

This year the GLEE building project is transforming the upper floors of the Library.  J.B.’s album (along with our other archives) records these areas as they were imagined at the time, as impressive modern facilities which aimed to provide the best possible environment and services for students: we hope to do the same today with the new facilities.