You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.

South West England is the largest region in England by area, covering some 9,200 square miles and comprises of Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Exmoor, Dartmoor, Bodmin Moor and Penwith Moors are all included in this region, as is much of Wessex and of course the Somerset levels. All good areas for pre-Roman archaeology.

South West region (Creative Commons)

The region was heavily populated during the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age periods. Many monuments, barrows and trackways still exist. Early coin evidence shows that the region was split between the Durotriges, Dobunni and Dumnonii peoples. It is a widely held belief that the Romans only ever really got as far as Exeter in their invasion of the Southwest, but this is not true. Roman mileposts have been found as far west as Hilary near Marazion. So there is plenty of scope for investigation, whichever period you may be interested in.

Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society

Ordinary Membership costs £10, providing a Newsletter each February and September which contains full details of Society activities. Members may attend any lecture or visit which is organised. Members also receive an annual journal (the Transactions) every Spring. There are additional classes of Membership, benefits of which are detailed on the website.

There is a full program of lectures and excursions arranged by the society, and full access to the Transactions from 1878-1995 is available online. Contents pages for later volumes are also searchable online.

Cornwall Archaelogy Society

The Society was formed in 1961 – it grew out of the West Cornwall Field Club, which was founded in 1935 by a group of enthusiasts who were studying the archaeology of West Cornwall. Currently the society has nearly 600 members and organises activities covering all aspects of the discipline.

Ordinary membership costs £25, and this provides three Newsletters a year, as well as a Journal (which is widely considered one of the best archaeological publications by a local society in the country). There are monthly walks and winter lectures, and for those interested in practical archaeology, opportunities to participate in fieldwork and learn archaeological techniques from experts.

Although many of the Journals are no longer available, there is a full list of contents for each volume available online, and a special summary of archaeology in Cornwall (Volume 25) including the full downloadable text in PDF format is available for download.

Clifton Antiquarian Club

Clifton Antiquarian Club is based in Bristol, although members are distributed across the southern half of England and Wales. Their stated aim is “to promote a better understanding of our archaeological heritage and meet on several occasions during the year for lectures, tours and research projects“.

High quality field trips and lectures are augmented with formal research projects and members are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the club’s activities. There are opportunities for publication of personal research in the biennial Proceedings of the Clifton Antiquarian Club and an editorial board has been appointed to ensure that all published material is of the very highest standard.

There is no membership Information on the club web site, though there is a section for younger members – ‘CAC Kids’ is a “junior” section of the Clifton Antiquarian Club with three key objectives:

  • -To organise visits to child friendly historical sites 
  • -To enable members and guests of the Clifton Antiquarian Club who are parents (or grandparents) to enjoy days out with their children in a safe and fun historic environment with likeminded members. 
  • -For the children to make new friends.

East Dorset Antiquarian Society

The East Dorset Antiquarian Society is an amateur society. Lectures by visiting speakers (and sometimes by members) are mainly on archaeology with occasional historical based talks. Members also arrange visits and guided walks to places of interest in Dorset and neighbouring counties.

The society undertakes practical archaeology and between 1998 and 2001 excavated a high status Roman building, where evidence was found of tesserae manufacture, including minute glass cubes. Painted wall plaster was also recovered. Since then excavations have taken place at Tarrant Monkton, Worth Matravers, Stourpaine, Wimborne Square and other sites.

Membership is a very reasonable £5, and the society’s newsletters and excavation reports are available on the web site for download.

North Devon Archaeological Society

The society’s stated aims are:

  • To promote awareness of and interest in archaeology and the historic environment with particular reference to northern Devon.
  • To encourage field survey, recording and research.
  • To promote the preservation and interpretation of ancient monuments and antiquities in the region.
  • Where appropriate and necessary, to excavate to professional standards and to publish the results of research.

Members take part in all aspects of practical archaeology including geophysical surveys, earthwork surveys, excavation, fieldwalking, potwashing etc. and the Society has attempted to train members in all these areas whenever possible. Training days are also held on documentary research, flint identification, pottery identification, pottery drawing etc.

NDAS welcomes all new members, regardless of whether they have any previous knowledge of archaeology. Individual Membership costs £16 and includes a twice yearly Newsletter, involvement in fieldwork (including insurance!) and free entry to talks in the Winter Program.

Useful Links

Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
Cornwall Archaelogy Society
Clifton Antiquarian Club
East Dorset Antiquarian Society
North Devon Archaeological Society

Devon Archaeological Society
Gloucester and District Archaeological Research Group
Winchester Archaeology and Local History
Plymouth & District Archaeological Society (PDAS)

Following our recent article on Archaeology Groups in the South East we are pleased to have been contacted by the Bexley Archaeology Group asking us to publicise their dig later this year. See below. Other groups are also welcome to publicise their events here (please submit the details to us at info@heritageaction.org.uk.)

Bexley Archaeological Group Training Excavation 30th July – 3rd August 2012

Novice excavators from our members and outside the Group are welcome to join us at our Annual Training Excavation Week on our on-going site in Bexley, Kent. Minimum unaccompanied age is 16 (with parents consent). All excavators will have the opportunity to experience the main tasks associated with an excavation under the supervision and guidance of the Field offices from the Field Unit of Bexley Archaeological Group. Tasks carried out during this excavation will include:

Ø field walking

Ø geophys

Ø surveying

Ø excavating

Ø finds processing

Ø drawing

Ø talks

The fee for the week (1 to 5 days) will be £150 for non-members. This includes annual membership to Bexley Archaeological Group, insurance, Certificate of Attendance and admin. Application Form for Training Excavation from:

Pip Pulfer

Bexley Archaeological Group

Tel: 07961 963893

Email:pipspad@hotmail.co.uk

http://www.bag.org.uk

or join our facebook page

The Heritage Journal would like to congratulate all those at Meyn Mamvro magazine (link) on the occasion of their 25th anniversary.

The current Issue 77 marks the actual anniversary, although at three volumes per year I’m not personally sure why the anniversary has been delayed for this issue, and not the 75th. But it’s a bumper issue, with all the usual columns on dowsing, site maintenance and pagan news, but focuses mainly upon Fogous, the site type that is particular to Cornwall but which may be related to those sites known as Souterains elsewhere.

‘Pathways to the Past’ covers the area of Lower Boscaswell, with a walk that takes in Pendeen Fogou, Boscaswell Fogou and Lower Boscaswell Holy Well, as well as other sites in the area. There is also an in-depth look at Boleigh Fogou before the two main anniversary articles.

Firstly is a reprint of an article from the initial issue entitled ‘The Riddle of the Fogous’, by Craig Wetherhill. This is followed by an article ‘Into the Underworld’, discussing the progress made from 25 Years of Fogou Research.

For anyone with an interest in Cornish archaeology and associated ‘Earth Mysteries’, Meyn Mamvro is a must-have publication, available at £9 for a 12 month subscription (3 issues).  Full details, and a comprehensive index of articles from back issues can be found on their
website.

You may recall how one of the official reasons for supporting the Bond’s Garage development at Avebury was the fact the village needed low cost housing for young people.

Well, if you’re a young person on a low income you still have a golden chance to move there. In fact three. Three small units remain, each at only £355,000 !

(Ask your Bank. Only £70,000 deposit and £1792.95 per month!)

The video below was recently brought to our attention. It looks as if this may be part of a series by ‘The Bald Explorer’, otherwise known as Richard Vobes. It’s a slightly irreverent and popularist look at some of England’s earliest monuments. If it is indeed the start of a series, then I for one can’t wait for the next installment!

History You Can Touch from Richard Vobes on Vimeo.

Our next willing subject to be put under the HA microscope is Dr. Mike Heyworth, M.B.E., Director of the Council for British Archaeology.

Brief Bio:

Having worked for the CBA in a variety of positions since 1990, Mike is now the organisation’s Director with overall responsibility for delivering the strategic objectives set by the trustees, and for the management of the secretariat. In this role he is involved in many committees and fora and is currently a trustee of Heritage Link, the chair of both the Archaeology Training Forum and the British Archaeological Awards, and secretary to the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group (on behalf of the Archaeology Forum). He is particularly interested in public archaeology in all its varied forms, and is a keen ‘early adopter’ of new technology.

The 10 Questions:

What sparked your interest in Archaeology/Heritage Protection?

I went digging aged 14 on an Iron Age site in Andover and immediately got hooked. Over the years my interests have broadened and deepened and I feel privileged to have been able to follow a career in such a fascinating area with so many amazing people.

How did you get started?

After my first day’s digging I worked for the local archaeology group most weekends and school holidays, and then went on to study archaeology at university which gave me the foundation for a rewarding career in the discipline.

Who has most influenced your career?

Richard Morris, an earlier CBA Director, who taught me so much, particularly in my first years with the CBA.

Which has been your most exciting project to date?

There are plenty of options to consider, but one of the highlights has to be the CBA’s Defence of Britain project involving volunteers in the study of twentieth century anti-invasion landscapes across the UK. This was a very challenging, but ground-breaking, project and was really pioneering in so many ways. I’m currently really excited by the CBA’s ongoing project to provide workpkace training bursaries to enable archaeologists to develop skills as a community archaeologist. Both projects have been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund which shows how important lottery funding is to our heritage.

What is your favourite British archaeological site… and why?

Coppergate in York, excavated by a team from the York Archaeological Trust led by Dr Richard Hall, which led on to the Jorvik Viking Centre. I’ve lived in York for nearly 20 years and seen at first-hand the impact of the excavation on the public’s interest in Viking archaeology, largely due to the innovative way in which it was subsequently presented, along with the ongoing scholarly research to interpret the evidence which the excavation uncovered.

What is your biggest archaeological/heritage regret?

That we have not yet managed to secure statutory status for local authority Historic Environment Records, and the services that are need to maintain and develop them, but I hope that this is something that can be resolved in the coming years. The HERs are vital planning tools, but also crucial ‘knowledge banks’ for professional and voluntary enthusiasts, and they need to be protected from public sector funding cutbacks.

If you could change one thing about current heritage protection legislation, what would it be?

See above!

If you were able to address Parliament for 30 seconds on archaeology what would you say?

I would remind them of the public benefits which come from new knowledge and understanding about the historic environment in which we all live and work, and the ongoing public fascination with archaeological discovery which has to remain a crucial precautionary part of the planning process given that we rarely have a full understanding of what will be found when the first spade goes into the ground. There is also an important linked point to be made that the physical evidence of the past should be used to generate knowledge and not financial profits.

If your career hadn’t worked out, what would you be doing now?

I suspect I’d be working in accountancy (like my Dad). Thank goodness for archaeology!

Away from the ‘day job’, how do you relax?

Following the Saints (Southampton FC) is not always relaxing, as other fans will testify, but it is certainly different from the ‘day job’ and a change is as good as a rest, so they say.

Many thanks to Mike for being such a sport!

For our third foray into the world of Archaeology Societies, we head north once again, this time to cover the NorthEast region. This covers Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne and Wear, and Teesside (including parts of North Yorkshire). The Northumberland National Park and part of Hadrian’s Wall both lie within this region.

North East Region (Creative Commons)

Despite the apparent archaeological riches with in the area, there appear to be very few archaeological societies with a strong web presence in the area. There are however, sites which provide contact details for many societies, either via email or old fashioned post.

Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland

150 years old and based in Durham, but with interests throughout the region, the society aims to provide an opportunity for all those interested in archaeology and architectural history to find out more, visit places of interest and experience hands on activities. The Society has an active fieldwork programme throughout the year, and it is a partner in the Binchester project, with members participating in the community excavation programme there. Successful joint meetings with the North East Vernacular Architecture Group and CBA North have enabled experienced archaeologists and architectural historians to share their knowledge and skills with others, and beginners are always welcome.

Members of the Society receive the society newsletter twice a year and volumes of the Durham Archaeological Journal on publication, and they are given the opportunity to purchase back issues of the Journal (where available) and the Society’s occasional research reports at very reasonable prices. Sample newsletters are downlodable from the society website.

Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne

The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne is the country’s oldest provincial antiquarian society, founded in 1813. They have a Facebook page which includes details of upcoming events. It has always been an important vehicle for the publication of research on Hadrian’s Wall and the Romans in North-East England. Individual membership is £33 including the paperback edition of Archaeologia Aeliana, or £39 including the hardback edition. A discount is available for direct debit payents.

Archaeologia Aeliana is the Society’s journal, and many of the early back issues (1822-1904 and therefore out of copyright) have been digitised and are freely available. The journal covers all aspects of the history of North-East England, ranging from archaeology (including excavation reports) and buildings to historical and documentary research, and from prehistory to the present.

Association of Northumberland Local History Societies

Not so much archaeology, but some of our readers may be interested in the more focussed field of Local History. If so, then this is the site to visit, with just over 50 such member societies in the North East region.

Northumberland Archaeological Group

This group does not appear to have it’s own website but is listed on the Newcastle.gov web site as meeting once a month in winter, based in North Shields. The group “offers a wide range of archaeological activities. annual excavation guided walks and field trips lecture programmes, members journal, social events, and also produce a publication “Northern Archaeology”.”

UPDATE (Feb 2015): The group is based in Newcastle upon Tyne, not North Shields as previously stated, and a web site is now available (see link below).

Useful links

By Nigel Swift

As 2011 ended the PAS website was showing they had recorded a total of just under 752,000 artefacts since they began whereas our Erosion Counter was showing detectorists had found 4,370,619 in that time. So either our figure is massively too high or detectorists have failed to tell PAS about more than 3,618,000 finds.

I’m not minded to accept our estimate is massively too high merely because detectorists bellow that it is or PAS carefully hints that it might be. Especially as they’re both the very antithesis of dispassionate. They are free to explain exactly how our methodology and parameters are entirely wrong and how our estimate must be ill-founded but haven’t done it – so until something more than bellowing or hinting turns up I’d have to think that over 3,618,000 recordable detector finds have disappeared without trace under PAS’s watch. And I’ll continue to feel profoundly indignant. The knowledge being lost belongs to all of us, not detectorists or PAS, so why should those two groups, each with a huge vested interest, be free to constantly persuade the public all is well?

After all, it’s a matter of plain record that PAS, was set up solely to reduce information loss caused by detecting, nothing more:
> “It is the long term aim of the Scheme to change public attitudes to recording archaeological discoveries so that it becomes normal practice for finders to report them
[Baroness Blackstone, Foreword to the PAS Annual Report 2000-2001]
> “I trust that we will now join the great majority of other civilised countries in passing a law to protect our rich and important heritage of portable antiquities”.
[Sir Anthony Grant, Commons Debate, 10 May 2001]

There was never any question of partnering, promoting or expanding the activity, so it’s clear that there has been massive mission creep relative to what was intended as well as massive under-performance relative to what was anticipated. After 14 years  it is the opposite of normal practice for detectorists to report finds and Britain has still not joined the great majority of other civilised countries in passing a law to protect our rich and important heritage of portable antiquities” – quite the reverse. Two thirds of recordable detecting finds still aren’t being reported – and the only official response is to hint that it’s not true!

A sensible, rational law to license detectorists and reduce the non-reporting rate from two thirds down to close to zero is clearly not imminent but there IS a simple measure that could be taken that would make a huge difference, one single act of outreach – not to detectorists but to landowners. Obscure or expensive it isn’t, appropriate, easily delivered and urgently owed to landowners it is. Just use the media to suggest to every landowner in Britain that they should always insist: NO RECORDING, NO PERMISSION!  We suggested it six years ago (see below) but it hasn’t happened. Why? Why should another 195,000 detecting finds go unrecorded in 2012 for want of just four words of official advice on the six-o’clock news directed to landowners, the only people who have control of the activity?

“In a balanced and well argued paper, Heritage Action also sets out an agenda for more responsible metal detecting. It states that ‘the majority of detectorists still don’t report their finds to the Portable Antiquities Scheme’, and that ‘growth in willingness to participate in the scheme has been slow … Heritage Action recommends that property owners and farmers should only give permission to detectorists to carry out surveys on their land if they agree to record and report their finds. ‘All metal detecting must start with a question: “May I detect on this land?” Our aim is to ensure that everybody’s answer is always: “Only if we can be sure you will report to the Portable Antiquities Scheme”’, the site says.”  [ The Society of Antiquaries, London, Newsletter 5 December 2005 ]

.

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More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting

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“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope”.

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Happy New Year to all our supporters and readers.

“Summer Solstice Sunrise from West Kennet” © Jim Mitchell, Heritage Action

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