1-4-7 Timeline

0 Contents 1 Background 1-4 Societal 

Anti-Human 1-4-9

1-4-8 About these pages 1-4-1 To 2.6.7


What is a building historian doing delving into the days before buildings or history? Incurable curiosity is my only excuse. Though I have been interested in the human journey all my life, there has been little time to pursue this passion into the far past. Over the last quarter-century I have been too busy researching buildings and settlements from Saxon to modern.

Artist's impression of Inuk by Nuka Godfredsen based on genetic analysis

Happily a convalescence coincided with an exciting time for lovers of prehistory, which I would have been sorry to miss. The winds of change are blowing through our vistas of the past. One source is the whirlwind of activity by population geneticists. New studies appear constantly. Most enlightening are those pushing hard at the boundaries of the possible in retrieving DNA from ancient bones and teeth. Scientists now can find not only the modern relatives of someone from prehistory, but his or her eye and hair colour too. Reconstructions by artists from ancient skulls will be able to rely more on science and less on imagination. This artist's impression of a 4000-year-old man of the Saqqaq Culture is based on sequencing 80% of his genome from tufts of hair rescued from the permafrost in Greenland. The scientific team named him Inuk. They could tell that he probably had brown eyes and thick, dark hair. His skin was probably not the light color found in modern day Europeans. He was cold-adapted and prone to baldness.1M. Rasmussen et ak., Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo, Nature, vol. 463 (11 February 2010), pp. 757-762.

Meanwhile a paradigm change is spreading through archaeology. The idea of migration in prehistory, so long out of favour, has come bouncing back.

Since it helps me to distill what I have learned if I pull it into a narrative, this collection of articles found themselves being written on the fly. The advantage of putting material on the Web is that others can comment on it. Then it can easily be revised and updated. There has been a constant process of revision since I began. You can keep in touch with new additions and revisions at my weblog Distant Past.

All my writing specifically for the Internet is aimed at the general reader. Yet much of this material is so new that it demands references. The end result is a strange hybrid of popular and scholarly writing. My aim is to bring together recent findings from archaeology, population genetics and linguistics to shed light on the migrations of mankind. My initial focus was Europe, since that is my home. But strands of the European past lead back to the Near East or deeper into Asia. So my attention has wandered. How far it wanders depends on how much time I have.


These pages would have been impossible without the very active, polyglot online communities following the progress of population genetics and participating in it. My thanks go to them.


If you are using a browser with up-to-date support for W3C standards e.g. Firefox, Google Chrome, IE 8 or Opera, hover over the superscript numbers to see footnotes online. If you are using another browser, select the note, then right-click, then on the menu click View Selection Source. If you print the article out, or look at print preview online, the footnotes will appear here.

  1. M. Rasmussen et ak., Ancient human genome sequence of an extinct Palaeo-Eskimo, Nature, vol. 463 (11 February 2010), pp. 757-762.

Consultant on the history of British buildings

Jean Manco is a building historian of uncertain age. She was probably born in the Elizabethan period and revived in the Victorian. She explains away periodic lapses into Anglo-Saxon as 'folk-memories'.

She researches buildings for anyone who asks nicely, cheque-book in hand. Clients have come from a wide range of bodies: English Heritage, local government, archaeological units, architectural and building firms, and non-profit organisations. Her studies are often published in scholarly format, but she also writes popular material for display or magazines, which sometimes leads to chats on local radio.

She does the odd (sometimes very odd) lecture. Those at Plymouth University mean a delightful journey down the Great Western line from her home in Bristol, with the ocean in various moods flashing past the window.

She was born on the other side of the country at Boston. So she claims a deprived childhood, with a serious absense of hills and building stone, but the truth is that family connections took her regularly to the glorious Peak District. As an adult she lived in London, Manchester, Brighton and Bath before settling in Bristol. Most of her professional work has been done in the West Country.

Along the way she has acquired skills in palaeography and medieval Latin, fabric analysis and deciphering settlement pattern. When it comes to buildings, she refuses to specialise. She likes fine architecture of all periods and has written on everything from castles to cottages and Saxon to modern. Still she will confess to a particular predeliction for medieval hospitals.

Some of the detritus of her life can be found at Jean Manco: flotsam and jetsam.

Please note that Warning! of any type is not accepted anywhere on this website. Enquiries are a waste of time.

Tel. 0117 3304772
Mobile: 07866 186413


Page created by Jean Manco. Last revised 27-02-2011 .


Spirit of Care cover

* = publications supported by (and/or based on research for) English Heritage

  • The Cross Bath, Bath History vol. 2 (1988)
  • * Lulworth Castle in the seventeenth century (joint author), Architectural History vol. 33 (1990)
  • * Lulworth Castle from 1700 (with F. Kelly), Architectural History vol. 34 (1991)
  • Bath and the Great Rebuilding, Bath History vol. 4 (1992)
  • Henry Savile's map of Bath, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History vol. 136 (for 1992)
  • The buildings of Bath Priory, Somerset Archaeology and Natural History vol. 137 for 1993)
  • Pulteney Bridge, Architectural History vol. 38 (1995), also published as Pulteney Bridge (Bath 1995), and reprinted in Ted Ruddock (ed.), Masonry Bridges, Viaducts and Aqueducts (2000)
  • The Parish of Englishcombe: a history (Englishcombe 1995)
  • * Iron Acton: a Saxon nucleated settlement, Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society vol. 113
  • * The history of Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings vol. 54 (1998 for 1996)
  • The Spirit of Care: the eight-hundred-year story of St John's Hospital, Bath (1998)
    Pulteney Bridge cover
  • Saxon Bath: the legacy of Rome and the Saxon rebirth, Bath History vol. 7 (1998)
  • The bishop's close at Bath reassessed, Archaeological Journal vol. 155 (1999)
  • The history of Binbury: medieval to modern, in P.Davenport (ed.), Archaeology in Bath: excavations 1984-89, British Archaeological Report vol. 284 (1999)
  • * Documentary evidence, in S. Brown, Recent building recording and excavations at Leigh Barton, Churchstow, Devon, Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings vol. 56 (2001 for 1998)
  • Web-Guided Research in Building History (online 4 Sept 2002)
  • * The history of Acton Court in K. Rodwell and R. Bell, Acton Court: The Evolution of an Early Tudor Courtier's House (English Heritage 2004)
  • The Hub of the Circus (Bath and North-East Somerset Council 2004)
  • The Origins of Bristol (online 26 June 2007)

Popular publications include

Teaching material online

Page created by Jean Manco. Last revised 3 August 2009.

Matthew chapter 25 tells us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and take in the stranger.

Medieval hospitals did just that. They were charity in concrete form. While the modern hospital provides medical care, many medieval hospitals were founded simply for the poor. They provided a home for those too handicapped or elderly to work - people who might otherwise have to beg in the streets if their families could not care for them. Other hospitals took in the stranger. They were hostels for pilgrims and other wayfarers. The leperhouses had their own rationale - segregation of the leper.

What remains of these refuges? Many were swept away at the Reformation. Some live on in other guises. The great teaching Hospital of St Bartholomew in London scarcely looks like a relic of the Middle Ages, yet its museum houses an archive going back to the twelfth century. Bart's is a rarity though in its evolution into a hospital in the modern sense. The medieval hospital was more akin to an almshouse. The natural progression was to continue in that role, but modernising over the centuries, leaving little clue to what a medieval hospital looked like. Yet to the delight of the historian, it is still possible to find a few of these houses of care that are little changed.

Moreover in the last decade there has been a spate of scholarly research and excavations which together have brought life in the British medieval hospital into sharper focus.

Faith and charity

Head of an angel in medieval glass from St Leonard's Hospital, York (York Archaeological Trust)

The major source of charity in the Middle Ages was the Church. Churchmen building hospitals had a model ready to hand, since monastic houses dispensed charity as a bounden duty. They gave alms to the poor, often from a special almonry by the gate. They had guest houses for travellers and infirmaries for their own sick. What more natural than to create hospitals along monastic lines? Most medieval hospitals were run by a community following a religious rule and headed by a prior or master.

The core elements were a chapel and an infirmary. The first infirmaries were open halls - like a hospital ward - with beds down either side. The chapel was central to the whole medieval concept of charity. Charity is linked with faith and hope as a Christian virtue. Hospitals cared for the soul as much as the body. Where suffering is constant and death close at hand, faith can be a powerful comfort.

Continue to A life apart: leper hospitals


This article first appeared in Medieval HistoryNovember 2003, with different images from those shown here.

See also Jean Manco, Medieval hospitals of Bath and Spirit of Care.

The Spirit of Care

The eight-hundred-year story of St John's Hospital, Bath by Jean Manco

St Catherine's Hospital, Bath
Reconstruction of the medieval St John's Hospital drawn by Christine Molan

Can be ordered direct from St John's Hospital.

This lavishly-illustrated book takes a fresh look at an ancient institution. The Hospital of St John the Baptist in Bath is among the oldest almshouses in the country. Founded in the twelfth century, it still provides a home for the elderly poor. This book explores its remarkable history.

The 'hospital of the baths' was a product of the Bath waters. Built beside the smaller hot springs, it sheltered the poor infirm. When the nobility and gentry flocked to the Elizabethan spa, St John's became a prime site. The result was unique: an almshouse combined with lodgings for wealthy visitors.

The Georgian spa boom almost crowded out the almshouse, while the Master of St John's enjoyed most of the profits. Victorian reformers turned the tide. This century brought expansion. Today St John's is thriving as never before.

Bellott's Hospital, Bath, by Henry Venn LansdownRosewell House, Bath, one of the properties owned by St John's HospitalThe author launching her book in St Catherine's Hospital

Theory: if a card has a vowel on one side, it has an odd number on the other side.

How many cards would you have to turn over to find out if the theory is true?

Which ones?


Logic test answer


 A    B    6     7  

Card A: if it has an even number on the other side, the theory is wrong

Card 6: if it has a vowel on the other side, the theory is wrong.


Not needed:

Card B: Consonants could have odd or even numbers without affecting the theory.

Card 7: Odd numbers could have vowels or consonants without affecting the theory.


When I first came across this test in the 1970s, about 10% of graduates got it right. I would guess that people tend to look for proof that a theory is right, but not for evidence that it is wrong.


Page created by Jean Manco. Last edited 7 December 2004.

Reports on historic buildings: English Heritage guidelines

A good final report is one that

The format of a report will vary, but most will be bound as A4 or A3 documents, illustrated with copies of maps, plans, and photographs, to a quality that makes them easy to read and use. Overlarge (or over-reduced) drawings and poor photographs can hinder understanding. All reports must be well written and clearly organised in a prose style accessible to a wide audience. The analyst will have failed if the report cannot be understood by the general reader. Although reports may be stored or disseminated electronically, paper copies are invaluable on site.

Summaries, introductions, and assessments will draw attention to key facts or interpretations that might otherwise be lost in a welter of information. Graphic devices - bullet points, italic or bold type faces - should be used to highlight key points and conclusions. All pages should be numbered. All sources quoted in reports should be fully referenced using a standard footnote or reference system. Authorship should be clearly stated and the report must carry a date of publication. The brief for the work should be included, as this will make the limitations of the project clear to readers.

A report should always be capable of standing alone; although it may refer to other documents there should be enough information for the reader to understand the context in which the report was prepared.

The content of a report

Most reports undertaken at any stage of the Cobra process will cover the following broad issues, although the structure, length and detail of the report may vary

Kate Clark, Informed Conservation: Understanding historic buildings and their landscapes for conservation (English Heritage 2001)from Kate Clark, Informed Conservation: Understanding historic buildings and their landscapes for conservation (English Heritage 2001), pp. 98-99.