Thursday, 17 June 2021

Henley Archaeological and Historical Society

THE February lecture by Sally Crawford was called “Forgotten archives: photographs of archaeology in Oxfordshire in the

THE February lecture by Sally Crawford was called “Forgotten archives: photographs of archaeology in Oxfordshire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries”.

Sally, a director of the Historic Environment Image Resource project at the Institute of Archaeology at Oxford University, gave a fascinating overview of the lantern and glass slide photographs in the Resource.

These slides, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, were used as a teaching resource at the university, allowing for the first time simultaneous viewing and discussion of images by class-sized groups.

The images are particularly rare as they were captured at a time when photographic equipment was bulky and processing inconvenient and travel was difficult.

From the Forties and Fifties, with the advent of 35mm slide photography, they were no longer used for their original purposes and became neglected and were even threatened with destruction. The Resource mainly covers material of interest to archaeologists, anthropologists and art historians, although the inclusion of people, vehicles etc offers subjects important to other people.

The slides often show excavations in progress and sites and buildings which have since been destroyed.

For example, one image taken in 1907 shows the windmill in Nettlebed that burned down in 1912 and another taken in 1932 shows the congregational church in Witney, which was demolished to make way for a supermarket in 1969.

The HEIR project aims to produce digital images from the glass slides (and to conserve the originals) and to index these images to provide a searchable resource.

It is looking for help from the public to do this. You can view them at and use your own skills and knowledge to index these beautiful and fascinating images yourself.

You can also help by providing present-day images corresponding to those on the slides, using an iPhone app (an Android version is being developed).

The next lecture will take place on March 1 when Roger Shaw will talk about “1421 — mediaeval Chinese exploration”, the story of Zheng He, admiral of the largest fleet ever assembled (3,800 junks,100,000 sailors) who sailed around the world and claimed to have discovered America 70 years before Columbus.

Mr Shaw has lived in the Henley area for 40 years and was commodore of Henley Offshore Group.

The lecture will be held at King’s Arms Barn in Henley (with access from the Waitrose car park), beginning at 7.45pm. Admission is free to members, £3 for non-members.

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