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Visit to Headstone Manor Museum

St Dominic’s has had a whole room in the Harrow Museum dedicated to the archeological dig, led by Louis Leeves and his Classics students, and our ace photographer, Monika Nastulla, felt it was time that we paid a visit and documented it for our archives.  They were joined by Christine Hirsch-Wilton, tutor, and me (Angela Inglese, History of Art) to see how the exhibition was put together and to celebrate the hard work of the dig team.

For the past few years, as part of the Wednesday Afternoon Activities scheme within college, which forms the basis of our enrichments programme, Louis and his team of budding archaeologists have been digging on the mound outside the library windows in an endeavour to find evidence of the sixteenth century Elizabethan watchtower. This tower would have been a focal point on Harrow-on-the-Hill, forming part of the nationwide warning beacon system in the event of an invasion.

The St Dominic’s College Archeological society have commandeered a whole room in which to show their finds to the many visitors to the museum. The display is full of highlights, including personal artefacts such as several clay pipe stems to items of jewellery and metalwork associated with clothing. Evidence such as this suggests that the tower was permanently manned by soldiers or local militia-men, in accordance with the function of the tower as an early warning network.

The excavations have also uncovered evidence of metal-working, due to burnt deposits, which may account for the many bolts, nails and rivets which are also on display. These would have been manufactured and used onsite.

Perhaps the most satisfying find is a fragment of the crenellated battlements which enable us to envisage how powerful the tower would have looked in its heyday.

A quick look through the visitors book showed that quite a few Harrow residents had been to see our exhibition and were very impressed with the amount of finds and the way the whole enterprise contributes to the local history of the area.

Oh…and we also visited the café…it only seemed fair.

Angela Inglese - Head of History of Art