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We have frequently referred in our Editorial Notes to the state of archaeology in countries for whose government and cultural facilities the British Government is responsible, contrasting its attitude with that of some other countries. It seems therefore opportune to reprint in full (with the permission of the Nigerian Government) the ‘Annual Report of the Antiquities Section for the year 1946’, which is the latest to reach us. It is signed by Mr K. C. Murray, Surveyor of Antiquities, over the date 20 January 1947. Need we add that, in thus reprinting his Report, we hope to strengthen the hands of Mr Murray and those others who are struggling to establish a proper Department of Archaeology and Anthropology in Nigeria?—Eds.
Most statements on the subject of Aegean chronology depend and will continue to depend on the Minoan system evolved by Sir Arthur Evans, who based his absolute dating chiefly on synchronisms with Egypt according to the chronology laid down by Dr Eduard Meyer.
Ex-Enemy territories, such as the Italian colonies in the Mediterranean, are administered on a care and maintenance basis so long as they remain under temporary allied control during the post-war interim period. It is on this basis that the U.K. undertook the administration of the Dodecanese, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica after British troops had entered those areas and, in one case, until a permanent government was established. The British Administrations set up in those territories have all established Departments responsible for caring for the ancient monuments, and these Departments have been expected to function on the same basis of care and maintenance. If the phrase were interpreted to mean care and maintenance of the antiquities as was done at the time of the Italian Administrations it would involve a very high expenditure, and this has not been possible. But a reasonable amount of work has been done. What has been achieved in two of the territories named is described briefly in the following pages. A short conclusion is added, making some recommendations for the preservation of ancient monuments, since this is a matter, especially in the Mediterranean area, which is not a private local affair but of interest to the whole world.
Examples of Open Arable Fields in cultivation at the present time are so rare that it is strange that those in the Isle of Portland in Dorset have been overlooked by every writer on this subject, This omission is probably due to the isolation of Portland, thrust, as it is, far out into the waters of the English Channel. Its isolation, also, is probably one reason why these open fields have survived, for Portland is a district of survivals. The Court Leet of its Royal Manor still exercises real authority, and Portlanders are tenacious of their ancient rights and customs. They tolerate but are not over-fond of ‘foreigners’ from the mainland and they sturdily resent outside interference and direction.
In 685 Ecgfrith, King of Northumbria, led an expedition against the Picts. North of the Tay, at Dunnichen near Forfar, he was slain and his army was destroyed by the forces of Brude mac Beli King of the Picts. The battle was fought near a loch, Symeon of Durham's ‘Nechtanesmere’, which scholars of the 19th century believed to have existed in the mosslands of Dunnichen. The site of the battle is not known, the loch itself has now disappeared, and the accounts of local historians and others, neither properly checked nor fully assimilated by national historians, are not all easily accessible. Floods which followed the winter of 1946–47 temporarily restored at least part of the old loch or mere, and in the summer of 1947 the flood-marks in the fields could still be seen. It seemed worth while to try to indicate on a map the extent of the vanished loch and this, with the aid of photography and a field-survey, has been possible. It seemed worth while also to sift the meagre scraps of evidence provided by chroniclers and, often unintentionally, by local writers of the last century, for these scattered scraps deserve to be brought together and re-examined.
Profound books are always worthwhile. If we agree with them, their ideas become a direct contribution to our knowledge. If we disagree, they impel us to examine the basis of disagreement and to develop our own counter-ideas, and thus they make an indirect contribution to our knowledge. R. G. Collingwood's The Idea of History (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1946) is the most penetrating work on the foundations of historical method known to me, but I find it unacceptable. My major difficulties result from his ontological idealism and his dichotomy between mind and nature.