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Although some commentators are predicting the death of RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, as a way of disseminating news on the internet, it is still going strong as a technology, and every day there are more ways to tap in (literally, with the advent of tablet computing and apps such as FlipBoard) to its power.

Personally I still like the Google Reader web interface for managing the many news feeds I follow, although there are also many apps available in whichever app store or marketplace your device uses to help you keep on top of things.

Among my many watched feeds are a series of archaelogy or ancient heritage sites, and I thought it might be useful to review some of these over a series of posts. The following are in no particular order:

24 Hour Museum

“Latest news, exhibition reviews, links, event listings and education resources from thousands of UK museums, galleries, heritage sites, archives and libraries, all in one place.”

There’s a very useful map widget on the front page of this site, showing locations and details of events and exhibitions. There is a general newsfeed available, or dig down using the navigation bar to a preferred topic and subscribe to the individual newsfeed(s) of your choice.

Ancient Digger

“Anyone can appreciate and learn about history and archaeology when it’s taught in a way that appeals to all generations. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, academic, archaeologist or anthropologist, historian, professor, or student, Ancient Digger is striving to teach all of you about world heritage.”

Only a single feed as far as I can tell, this one covers world-wide archaeological news, so UK content can get a little lost.

Heritage of Wales News

“The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has a leading national role in developing and promoting understanding of the archaeological, built and maritime heritage of Wales, as the originator, curator and supplier of authoritative information for individual, corporate and governmental decision makers, researchers, and the general public.”

This newsfeed duplicates each post (in Welsh and English) so 50% of the newsfeed will be redundant for most readers.

Council for British Archaeology

“An independent charity, our overall aim is to open up the UK’s rich heritage for all and safeguard it for future generations. Connect with the UK archaeology community, and uncover the latest stories, research and resources.”

Sadly, the only RSS Newsfeed that seems to be available concerns the CBA’s new publications, but there is a news page available which strangely is not RSS’d.

Much of the news reported is about the CBA rather than the wider world of archaeology and heritage. An opportunity missed in the recent site revamp perhaps?

The Stone Age Tools Museum

A simple, straightforward blog, containing news from around the world about Stone Age Tools.

Orkneyjar

“Welcome to Orkneyjar – a website dedicated to the preserving, exploring and documenting the ancient history, folklore and traditions of Orkney – a group of islands lying off the northern tip of  Scotland”

An excellent site covering news of excavations and events in the Orkneys, from the Paeleolithic through to Medieval sites.

Watch for coverage of more newsfeeds soon, as I delve further into my list. Actually, although we’ve listed 6 sites above, there is one other that should be on your list: The Heritage Journal! Just click on the RSS symbol at top left to subscribe to our own newsfeed. If you have a good source of news that’s not in this list, why not share it in the comments so others can also enjoy?

Good fun and good archaeological outreach seem to have been brought together by the admirable Guerrilla Archaeology – see here!

“This week we took delivery of seven deer skulls we will be using to recreate the Star Carr head-dresses. The originals are twenty-one adult red deer skull with antlers altered to be worn as head-dresses.  They all date to the Early Mesolithic, about 9,500 years old, and were discovered at the site in the Vale of Pickering, North Yorkshire, England.  They may have been worn by hunters as a disguise, but it is more likely that they were part of a costume worn on special occasions, perhaps during religious ceremonies.”

Who wouldn’t want to wear one of those and walk round a prehistoric site?!

Mind you, we know a very nice man that has been doing that for years!

When trying to plan a trip to visit our ancient heritage sites, it helps to know where to go, and what you’re going to see when you get there. This article, one of an occasional series, explains briefly how to use one of the government mapping websites for England. We’ll cover Wales and Scotland in later articles.

MAGIC, or Multi-Agency Geographical Information for the Countryside is a web-based interactive map bringing together information on key environmental schemes and designations. It involves eight government organisations who have responsibilities for rural policy-making and management.

It is relatively easy to use and allows close zooming of OS standard maps, which can show a variety of datasets from the different goverment agencies, including among others English Heritage, Defra (who run the site) and Natural England. MAGIC makes use of standard GIS tools to allow people to view and query the available data. Users do not require specialist software and can access maps using a standard web browser. MAGIC also provides links to other sources in order to make best use of the wide range of information available on different websites and Internet portals.

The information available in MAGIC has expanded considerably since its launch in July 2002. Originally the interactive map was designed to show only datasets for England as this was the area common to all the partners. In 2005 MAGIC widened it’s geographic scope, including information for Scotland, Wales and marine areas as part of the Coastal and Marine Resource Atlas.

For our purposes, the Interactive Map link is the one we’re most interested in, although the Map Tutorial is worth visiting if you have not seen the site before. Having selected the Interactive Map, the first step is to decide what information is required to be displayed. There is a dropdown allowing selection of a series of pre-defined topics, or there is a ‘Design Your Own’ option. Selecting this option displays a list of more than 100 layers’ which can be included on the map. For our purposes, the most informative layers to display on the map from the more than 100 layers available are; ‘Scheduled Monuments (England)’, ‘World Heritage Sites (England)’, and possibly ‘Parishes (England)’.

Once the layers have been selected, save your selection and return to the Map screen. The next step is to identify the map area you wish to display. This can be done using several different criteria. After agreeing to the Terms and Conditions, click on Open map and a new window will open. This stage can take some time at busy periods, so be patient.

The initial scale at which the map opens can vary, dependent upon the criteria used, but the scale can be varied using the Scale textbox, or the zoom tools at the bottom of the map, and the map can also be scrolled using the hand tool. To see more information about a Scheduled Monument, select the ‘i’nformation icon at the top of the map,. Again a new window will open – select the layer you’re interested in from the dropdown, then click within the confines of a monument boundary as shown on the map. A grid will appear with basic identification information about the selected site. In many instances for Scheduled Monuments, clicking on the Legacy UID number will open a PDF file showing an extract from the English Heritage Register of Scheduled monuments, with a detailed description of the selected site. However, not all counties provide this information, which can be frustrating at times!

So all in all, a useful resource for finding Scheduled Monuments and a site that we can strongly recommend. The zoom facility on the maps, while not making it easy to see detail at the higher scales, allows for quite precise placement if you’re looking for e.g. a monument within a built up area. The lack of backing documents in some areas, even for some quite well known monuments, is quite disappointing, but updates are frequent and we can only hope that further information will be added as time goes on.

Rescue, the British Archaeological Trust (same instincts as us but from the viewpoint of professional archaeologists) has been charting the decimation of the heritage sector through funding cuts for the past several years (see their map of the latest ones here).

Now they have published Fighting Back , some tips on how to campaign to save museums, archaeological services and the historic environment. As they say –
“These notes are intended to provide some guidance in campaigns to protect and preserve local and regional archaeological services, museums and heritage services from cuts which will damage the service they deliver to the profession, to academia and to the public at large. They are based on the experience of members of the committee of RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust and on advice we have received from other campaigners.”

Anyone thinking of applying some of the advice they offer could do worse than start by using it on Wiltshire County Council regarding the Wiltshire Heritage Museum!

Following on from Part 1 here is the second part of the article by Nancy Wisser,  founder of Clonehenge.

Another replica that is special to me is the Spanish monument at A Coruña in Galicia. It is a beautiful sculpture modeled after Stonehenge, with a poem carved into the lintels, commemorating those who died at the hands of the Franco regime. It is positioned on a hill above the sea and all in all seems very evocative of human sorrow and longing but with a tinge of hope. I would love to go there! Maybe someone on the History Channel or BBC would like to do a show in which once a week I visit and talk about one of the large permanent replicas. Lol!

photo by Jacobo Fraga, aka Lewosky

Because the blog has been around so long, we were able to follow the long process that resulted in the building of the pink granite Stonehenge replica in Esperance, Western Australia. Now we (when I say we I mean me, but the Clonehenge persona is not actually my personality. I invented a voice for it and that voice uses the editorial we) are following developments on the Achill henge story. People post news on the Clonehenge Facebook group wall, usually, before I search and learn about them myself.

The Facebook group caught on much more than the Twitter feed or the Clonehenge Facebook Page. Although, I must point out, the Clonehenge Twitter is followed by no less illustrious a personage than Mr. Mike Pitts, along with other people who research, think, write and tweet about Stonehenge, including Arthur Pendragon and some bloke called Heritage Action. Who would name their poor child that, I ask you?

While blabbing on, I have been trying to think of the worst henge. Not easy because I love them all in different ways. There is one, claimed to be made of clay but that actually looks as if it is made of dog excrement allowed to dry until it is white. Also, of course, there are so many that are accompanied by Easter Island moai, those heads, you know. This has always grated on me a little, much as it has always bothered me that penguins and polar bears are often depicted together in wintry scenes on pajamas, for example, or in children’s toys, while the fact is, they live as far apart as you can get on this globe. Stonehenge and the heads, too, are on opposite sides of the earth, but in the popular mind they are almost the same thing.

And in the not-sure-if-it’s-terrible-or-good department, there is a Stonehenge in a huge cemetery in Japan that has a Buddhist shrine in the middle. I think it has moai nearby as well, so it is kind of special. Probably the actual worst is the one in Kennewick, Washington State.  Pathetic, really, just something a pensioner built in his front garden, but how can you judge it against these other ones? The beautiful white limestone replica in Montana was built by a millionaire. In a way, the smaller one required more dedication to the idea than that did.

I could go on. There are fountains, sculptures, planetarium replicas, and more, from Brazil to Malaysia. One I just recalled, a beautiful set of large sculptures called Caelum Moor,  is in Texas also. It is the most controversial, with some right wing Christians calling it demonic, wanting it removed and claiming it will be used for Satanic worship. I guess that’s what I didn’t expect when I started this: how many different topics I end up discussing as I post about these replicas, from religion to the environment, conspiracy theories in connection with the Georgia Guidestones,  war, politics, food, movies–it goes on and on. I never thought anyone would be arrested for building a replica, but recently Joe McNamara was. It is another door into the complexities of human nature. One small henge is made of wool sheared from seaweed-eating sheep. It’s all very curious.

That’s way more than you asked for, but usually no one asks me about this and it has been a journey of years now, shared with almost no one, so it is fun to reminisce a bit and talk about the experience. Thanks for asking. There are still many small and temporary replicas being made and I could be posting a lot more than I do these days, but I have moved on to other projects and rarely have the time or inclination. I wouldn’t be posting at all if people were not still submitting.

What is it about? What is it about Stonehenge that makes people want to reproduce it in every size and material possible? I think of the character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, building that mesa in his basement. The compulsion seems to strike people much like that. Does it have some subconscious meaning? Who knows? But it has kept me seeing the good side of human nature, the playful side, the curious side, the side that thinks of the ancients and looks at the stars. Just being reminded that mankind has a good side makes it worthwhile in the end!

It’s three years since we featured Clonehenge, the website about replica Stonehenges – see our article here. Since then the site has gone from strength to strength so we asked its founder, American Nancy Wisser to fill us in with a few details. She did better than that. Here is Part 1 of her fascinating account.

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Clonehenge all started because of a running joke on the Megalithic Portal. Andy Burnham and some others were always metaphorically–and probably actually–rolling their eyes whenever a site somewhere was called the Stonehenge of the North or the Russian Stonehenge, Brazilian Stonehenge, etc., as if there were no standing stones in the world but Stonehenge and as if, let’s face it, any other site truly resembles Stonehenge.

Somewhere along the line, just for laughs we started posting links to Stonehenge replicas in a chat dialogue box the Portal used to have on the left hand side of its main page. I think Andy took that down now. We were finding the silliest ones we could, made of the most ridiculous materials, but I began to see how many there were, not only the silly ones (well, the more silly ones–to me at some level every Stonehenge replica is a bit silly), but those built by people taking great pains.

It amused me that although they were all imitations of the same thing, they were all so different, depending on who built them and why. Scientists built them as astronomical observatories. Artists built them as sculptures. Curiously, few were made by pagans. Some people tried to make replicas of Stonehenge as it was thought to have been at its height and some tried to capture the modern state of disarray. There were large ones, small ones, in different proportions and with different ideas of how the stones should be shaped. I was dazzled by the sheer numbers of them and the diversity, plus amused by how each person that made one thought his or hers was the only one or one of the few.

I started saying, there must be a blog about this. When I couldn’t find one, I started saying, someone should do a blog about this. Finally I realised it was going to have to be me. At the time, I believe it was November, I thought it would not last past New Year’s day, posting one or two a day. I just didn’t think there were that many.

But of course I just kept finding them, and as I did, I posted them. I couldn’t stand the thought of a major Stonehenge replica being out there and not being listed on the blog. For some reason I kept thinking of a theoretical child who decided to do a report on Stonehenge replicas and who would count on me to have them all. I did find that when it came to small ones, I could not, for example, post all of the Stonehenge replicas made of beach stones or of cheese. There were just too many. I tried to choose the nicest ones or the ones with the nicest pictures. It was always amusing, though, to see how each builder thought he or she was original and alone in the world.

You can imagine, I soon grew tired of Spinal Tap jokes. People continually thought they were the first to think of them.

And, I don’t know–it went on and on. I favoured the stranger and sillier ones, but I tried to post them all. My personal favourite and the funniest may be the one at Taipei in Taiwan, the interactive Stonehenge street sculpture that detects and speaks to visitors, see below. It is small and white and curvy, sort of like Stonehenge in a larval state. I think it is very funny–so far from the original in every way and yet it has one thing in common with it–it was placed by the authorities to impress and get the attention of the common people. Many of the large ones don’t have that quality–they are not for the public.

Taipei’s Interactive Larval Stonehenge, Taiwan

[photo from the Taipei Public Art section of the Taiwan government site]

Of course one that gets a lot of visits on the blog is the one at the German spa, Therme Erding.  That is because it has the words “mandatory nudity” in it. Amazing what that can do for your numbers. You should try it! Wally Wallington gets a lot of attention, as if he solved all of the mysteries of Stonehenge! I don’t think he ever built more than one trilithon. Carhenge is very popular, and for sale right now. Wiltshire Heritage should consider bringing it over. One thing I love at the large replicas is when people say they are better than the original. :-) I think that is missing the point a bit!

In my opinion, the most under-noticed replica is the one in Odessa, Texas. The other big Texas one, often called Stonehenge II, is very inferior but gets a lot of notice. The Odessa replica is very nicely done, beautiful and impressive. I like to think that I am the only person in the world who can identify every large permanent Stonehenge replica standing today from any tiny thumbnail photograph of it, but from the right angles and in the right light, I can still be tricked by the Odessa henge. I would love to actually see it, but I probably never will, because it is the only reason I would want to visit Texas. I don’t like the heat.

The last and smallest of the English regions, Greater London is also the most densely populated region. It spans the City of London and the 32 London Boroughs. This density of population is reflected in the number of archaeological societies available, a selection of which is listed below.

Greater London (Creative Commons)

Instead of forming a single political unit, London is divided into the small, interior City of London and the much wider Greater London. This arrangement has come about because as the area of London grew and absorbed neighbouring settlements, a series of administrative reforms did not fully amalgamate the City of London with the metropolitan area, and its unique political structure was retained. Outside the limited boundaries of the old city, a variety of arrangements governed the wider area since 1855, culminating with the creation of the Greater London administrative area in 1965. (Wikipedia) This history of growth, development and redevelopment provides many archaeological opportunities.

London and Middlesex Archaeological Society

The society was founded in 1855 ‘for the purpose of investigating the antiquities and early history of the Cities of London and Westminster and the Metropolitan County of Middlesex’. Its activities include:

  • arranging lectures and conferences (2012 Conference details – 24th March)
  • publishing research on the history and archaeology of London and Middlesex
  • helping to monitor the state of historic buildings and monuments in Greater London

The society is keen to stimulate the interest of London’s children in the fields of archaeology, local history and historic buildings, and supports the work of the Central London Young Archaeologists’ Club, which organises a wide range of children’s activities.

Membership (£15 for ordinary members) brings a copy of the Transactions (usually published in December), a 4-monthly Newsletter, discounted entry to the Conference and a series of Lectures.

Carshalton and District History and Archaeology Society

Covering the London Borough of Sutton, the society, originally called the “Carshalton Society” and later  the “Beddington, Carshalton and Wallington Society”, was formed in 1920 “…for the purpose of extending knowledge of local history …placing archaeological finds in safe keeping, visiting places of interest and providing instructive lectures”. These remain the aims of the society today.

Membership is £8, monthly meetings are held (non-members are welcomed for a small fee), a range of publications are available at reduced rates, and several visits are arranged throughout the summer months.

Enfield Archaeological Society

Enfield Archaeological Society is active in carrying out research and fieldwork in Enfield, in order to understand the archaeological past of the Borough.

Its main aims are: to promote the practice and study of archaeology in the district; to record and preserve all finds in the district and encourage others to allow their finds to be recorded by the Society; and to co-operate with neighbouring societies with similar aims.

The Society has a Fieldwork and Research Group led by a professional archaeologist. The group works closely with the Borough of Enfield and English Heritage, carrying out surveys and excavations especially on the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Elsyng Tudor Palace in the grounds of Forty Hall.

Ordinary Membership is £9, there are 9 lectures held through the year and a quarterly bulletin (published in March, June, September and December) is free to members, giving details of forthcoming events, reports of past meetings, news of local archaeological discoveries and the results of research by members. A range of publications produced by the society is available.

Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society

Somewhat outside the usual ‘Heritage Action’ prehistory remit, the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society (GLIAS) was founded in 1968 to record relics of London’s industrial history and to deposit these records with national and local museums, archives, etc; also to advise local authorities and others on the restoration and preservation of historic industrial buildings and machinery.

Membership is £12, and benefits include an extensive number of walks and lectures, and a bi-monthly newsletter to keep members in touch with events in industrial archaeology, in London and across the country. There is also an award-winning database with images, articles, glossary entries, biographies and company histories.

Hendon and District Archaeology Society

The society (Hadas), is one of the most active archaeological societies within Greater London. Hadas was founded in 1961 by Themistocles Constantinides with one aim: to find and prove, on the ground, the Saxon origins of Hendon. Since that time the Society has expanded in area, today encompassing the whole of the London Borough of Barnet and excavation and research now covers all archaeological periods. The Hadas Working Party actively conducts field walking, surveying and excavations. There is also a programme of outings and lectures throughout the year. An ongoing project is the digitisation of the society’s Newsletter Archive.

Full membership is £15, and this includes access to an on-line discussion group.

Islington Archaeology and History Society

The society organises lectures, walks, visits and outings throughout the year.  It also arranges regular archaeological site visits for members, usually in the City. It also aims to document archaeological findings in the Islington area. It delights in offering local literary and historic walks by arrangement, from school groups to U3A members.

Membership (£10) brings with it a quarterly Newsletter, incorporating Islington History Journal, and seminars from ten guest lecturers a year.

Orpington and District Archaeological Society

Founded in 1975, the Society promotes the study of archaeology in the Upper Cray Valley by undertaking excavations, carrying out research into the archaeology of the area and encouraging public interest through meetings and visits.

Individual membership is £11.50, and provides the following benefits:

  • quarterly publication, ‘Archives’ – news and articles – free to members
  • assist in excavations
  • help process finds
  • take part in members-only events
  • invitation to join outings
  • social events
  • priority access to public events, often very popular

Richmond Archaeological Society

The Richmond Archaeology Society originated as the Archaeological Section of the Richmond Society in 1977 when a group of enthusiasts decided that there was a need for a local society focusing exclusively on archaeology. Membership of the society now ranges from professional archeologists to interested amateurs It is mainly known for a lively programme of lectures on all aspects of archaeology. It also organises excursions and acts as a forum for local activities.  For those who like to get their hands dirty, the society supplies volunteer support to local activities such as: –

  • Excavations by the TV programme ‘Time Team’ at Syon Abbey and the royal palaces of Richmond and Kew.
  • The Museum of London project to survey the Thames foreshore.
  • Provision of guides for the excavations at Syon House.

Membership is £10, and as well as all of the above, provides a quarterly newsletter.

Useful Links

London and Middlesex Archaeological Society
Carshalton and District History and Archaeology Society
Enfield Archaeological Society
Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society
Hendon and District Archaeology Society
Islington Archaeology and History Society
Orpington and District Archaeological Society
Richmond Archaeological Society

Kingston Upon Thames Archaeological Society (KUTAS)
Merton Historical Society
Ruislip, Northwood & Eastcote Local History Society

The East Midlands region consists of most of the eastern half of the traditional region of the Midlands. It encompasses the combined area of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire and most of Lincolnshire. The Peak District and part of The Fens are included in the area.

East Midlands region (Creative Commons)

Historically, the region roughly corresponds to the ‘Five Boroughs‘  of the Danelaw, and prior to that was a centre for the Romans, with Lincoln at the junction of the Fosse Way and Ermine Street.

Derbyshire Archaeological Society

The society was formed in 1878 as an archaeological and natural history society. There are now four sections: the Archaeological Research Group, the Architectural Section, the Industrial Archaeological Section, and the Local History Section. All run fieldwork or visits and lecture programmes in addition to the activities of the main Society.

The Society is one of the major county bodies consulted by planning authorities on matters concerning archaeological sites and historic buildings. Membership is £18, providing access to events and a copy of the society’s Journal, published in the summer.

Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society

The Society was founded in 1855 ‘to promote the study of history, archaeology, antiquities and architecture of the county’.  The activities  centre around a lecture programme, publications, historic buildings and research. An annual Transactions is published (Volumes 1-20 are fully downloadable), which includes a summary of all archaeological activity which has taken place in the city and county in the previous year. The Leicester Historian and two newsletters are also published each year.

Individual membership is £20 and this entitles the member to receive copies of all the annual publications, to attend lectures and to take part in any activities organised by the Society. There are different rates for additional family members, students and institutions.

Leicestershire Fieldworkers

Leicestershire Fieldworkers Group has, since 1976, undertaken an award-winning programme of active archaeological fieldwork throughout Leicestershire. The Group, in conjunction with Leicestershire County Council Museums Service archaeologists, holds regular lecture meetings, has its own Newsletter, “The Fieldworker” and provides training courses for beginners. Individual membership is £6.

Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology

The society’s activities include:

  • arranging lectures, conferences, local history fairs and site visits on many topics related to Lincolnshire’s history, archaeology and industrial archaeology;
  • publishing quarterly and annual periodicals, and a series of more substantial and academic books as part of a longer term programme;
  • running a bookshop at Jews’ Court – operated by volunteers – which carries an extensive selection of new books on Lincolnshire, a thriving second-hand department, and both new and old postcards;
  • encouraging schools to promote Lincolnshire’s history and archaeology;
  • facilitating research and field investigation;
  • working with affiliated groups throughout the county.

Membership is £21, and in addition to the current offer for new members of a free book selected from a list, all members receive:

  • a quarterly Bulletin of News items and details of forthcoming Events
  • a quarterly magazine – Lincolnshire Past and Present
  • an annual Journal – Lincolnshire History and Archaeology
  • pre-publication information and a 20% discount on the Society’s wide range of publications
  • opportunities to buy selected and collectable second-hand books
  • an open invitation to all Events

Northamptonshire Archaeological Society

The society was formed in 1974 to promote the study and appreciation of the Archaeology and History of the county. It is a registered charity, with H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester as its Honorary President. Whether experienced archaeologist or pursuing a long held interest, new members are always welcome.

The Northamptonshire Archaeology journal is published annually, containing detailed excavation reports as well as notes and summaries describing current fieldwork. Newsletters provide details of local events and society meetings. Membership is £10 and a range of publications is available.

The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire

The Thoroton Society is the county’s principal historical and archaeological society. It has a long pedigree, having been established in 1897. The Society’s aims are simple: to promote knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the history, archaeology and antiquities of Nottinghamshire, and to support local research and conservation.

Membership benefits include:

  • A lecture series on topics relating to the county.
  • Excursions to sites of historical and archaeological interest.
  • The Society’s prestigious annual publication, The Transactions, containing the latest historical research.
  • A regular newsletter.
  • Occasional publications in the Record Series (additional Subscription required).
  • An annual luncheon and other special events.
  • Meeting like-minded people and getting involved in exploring Nottinghamshire’s fascinating past.

Useful Links

Derbyshire Archaeological Society
Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society
Leicestershire Fieldworkers
Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology
Northamptonshire Archaeological Society
The Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire

Boston Spa Archaeology and Heritage Group
North East Lincolnshire Arhaeological and Local History Society
The Sherwood Archaeological Society
Rutland Local History and Record Society

The East of England includes the counties of Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. The area is one of the flattest in the UK. Cambridgeshire is part of The Fens. The lowest point in the region, and indeed the UK is Holme Fen, which is 3 metres below sea level, whilst Dunstable Downs marks the high point at 243 metres.

East of England region (Creative Commons)

Archaeologically speaking, this is of course home to the Iceni, Trinovantes and Catuvellauni tribes of pre-Roman Britain. Camulodunum was the main town of the Trinovantes, and later became a colonia – a settlement of discharged Roman soldiers – and the principal city of Roman Britain. There is also a wealth of WWII archaeology in the area due to the number of airfields established here at that time.

Ampthill and District Archaeological and Local History Society

Founded in 1962, in common with many other societies the winter months provide a series of lectures, whilst in summer visits are arranged to excavations, and other interesting sites. Geophysical surveys are carried out in the local areas using the Society-owned resistivity meter, and pseudo-section equipment. Limited excavations are mounted, normally in a rescue context.

Membership is £8, but attendance at lectures etc is extra. The society has produced a range of publications and reports, many of which are downloadable from the web site.

Cambridge Archaeology Field Group

The group was formed in 1978 to carry out practical archaeology in the Cambridge area and also try to promote interest in archaeology through activities such as talks. Activities include Fieldwalking (most Sundays from Autumn to Spring), Excavations, Processing and finds analysis and Talks. Individual membership is £8. There is an interesting article (PDF format) entitled ‘What is Fieldwalking?‘ available for download from the web site.

East Herts Archaeological Society

The society offers:

  • Access to research collections held at Ware Museum
  • Links to current archaeological digs in East Herts where volunteers are welcome
  • A regular lecture series with experts presenting illustrated talks on local and international archaeology, and on local buildings and other historical topics
  • Excursions throughout the summer led by experts in their field

Annual subscription is £10, members receive a newsletter and a copy of the annual journal.

Essex Society for Archaeology and History

Formed in 1852, the society are proud of their record as well over 10,000 pages of reports have been published on archaeological sites and numerous aspects of the County’s history since then.

Membership offers a regular program of excursions to many historic sites not usually open to the public, a series of lectures and seminars, access to a growing library at Essex University in Colchester and copies of the regular newsletter and annual journal .

Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society

The Society is one of the oldest archaeological societies in the country. Throughout its history it has attracted all those interested in the archaeology and history of Norfolk. Membership has included amateur and professional archaeologists, but the vast majority of members are simply those who are fascinated by the history, archaeology, buildings and ancient sites in the area in which they live.

Individual membershp is £16, bringing all the usual benefits of newsletters, a journal and access to society events. The society also runs a branch of the Young Archaeologists’ Club for young people aged 8-16. YAC is managed by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA), who provide training, insurance, and support for all the branches.

North Hertfordshire Archaeological Society

North Hertfordshire Archaeological Society was established in 1960 and has undertaken a wide range of research into the archaeology and heritage of the district since then. It has a regular lecture programme, occasional visits and guided walks, and is involved in local fieldwork, including survey and excavation. Today, the Society still thrives. It provides lectures, visits and social events as well as published information and has a healthy membership still drawn from people in the North Hertfordshire and South Bedfordshire districts with a keen interest in the past.

Individual membership is £15, The North Hertfordshire Antiquary is a regular newsletter sent to members. Electronic versions are sent to those who have email accounts. Publications of the results of the Society’s fieldwork have been through journals, interim reports, monographs and, more recently, the web. The volume of work undertaken by the Society means that some sites await final publication, which is in hand.

Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History

Founded in 1848 the Institute is Suffolk’s largest and oldest archaeological and historical society. For a century and a half it has played an important role in encouraging and publishing research on Suffolk’s past. For those interested in taking an active part in archaeological field-work, the Field Group provides an opportunity to learn about and participate in practical work. The group has close links with the Suffolk Archaeological Service and with local museums.

A Single membership is £20 which provides a copy of the annual Proceedings, a regular newsletter, excursions and lectures. Publications are available at discounted prices for members.

West Essex Archaeological Group

Formed in 1958, the prime objective of the Group is “to promote the advancement of knowledge and education by a study of archaeology, history and kindred subjects particularly in West Essex”. The Group has organised and carried out excavations in West Essex since the 1960’s. In the Group’s early days our most important excavation was of the Romano-British temple at Harlow. During the construction of the M11 motorway the Group excavated several sites revealed by the work, and prior to the construction of the M25 the Group, in cooperation with other similar groups in Essex and Hertfordshire, carried out fieldwalking along the proposed route.

Adult Membership is £12, the society has a respected reputation for always publishing reports on its excavations, so a wide range of publications and Transactions is available.

Useful Links

Ampthill and District Archaeological and Local History Society
Cambridge Archaeology Field Group
East Herts Archaeological Society
Essex Society for Archaeology and History
Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society
North Hertfordshire Archaeological Society
Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History
West Essex Archaeological Group

Aldeburgh and District Local History Society
Blakeney Area Historical Society
Cambridge Antiquarian Society
Colchester Archaeology Group
Gt Yarmouth & District Local History & Archaeological Society
Maldon Archaeological and Historical Group
South East Essex Archaeological and Historical Society

The official West Midlands region contains the large conurbation that includes Birmingham and Wolverhampton, but also covers the predominantly rural shire counties of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

There is some confusion in the use of the term “West Midlands”, as the name is also used for the much smaller West Midlands county.

West Midlands region. Creative Commons

The region contains five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), including all of the Shropshire Hills, Malvern Hills and Cannock Chase, and parts of the Wye Valley and Cotswolds. The Peak District national park also stretches into the northern corner of Staffordshire.

Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society

Founded in 1870, the Society, promotes the study of archaeology and history in Birmingham, Warwickshire and West Midlands County by the investigation, preservation and restoration of local antiquities and historic buildings and by the publication of these activities in its Transactions.

Ordinary Membership is £15, and receive the Transactions, the newsletters of the Society and get discounted rates for attendance at Society events and excursions. A full range of lectures is held on a regular basis.

Coventry and District Archaeological Society

CADAS has a full programme of informative lectures, and a regular Bulletin, as well as an active Fieldwalking Group.

The society is involved in:

  • Local historic projects, working alongside partner organisations.
  • Excursions to sites of interest.
  • Society led projects, involving field-walking, excavations and research.
  • Assisting professional archaeological units on local digs.

Membership is £12 and provides free access to lectures, the Society Bulletin (10 per year) and involvement in projects. A lst of recent Bulletin articles is available on the web site.

Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society

Shropshire, on the border between upland Wales and lowland England, has had a complex and turbulent history. This fascinating past is reflected in a wealth of archaeological sites of all types and periods and in a rich collection of archives. The society campaigns for the recording and protection of Shropshire’s rich and varied archaeological heritage. They also promote and publish original research into the county’s history and prehistory. There is a full program of walks and talk and an annual lecture.

Members (£14) receive a 6-monthly newsletter and a copy of the Transactions, and have access to the society library.

Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society

Membership is £18.50 and provides access to newsletters and an annual Transactions volume. There are the normal Lectures and Excursions also available, as well as the opportunity to partake in both desk-based research and on-site surveys. Past Transactions are available to download online for members only (a fee is payable per volume).

Worcestershire Archaeological Society

The stated aims of the society are to:

  • Promote research in archaeology and history of the area
  • Work for the understanding and care of all kinds of antiquities
  • Take part in archaeological research
  • Publish its work and exchange information with similar bodies
  • Collect and make available relevant publications
  • Arrange appropriate excursions
  • Exchange in holding exhibitions, seminars, lectures and classes
  • Commission and publish works that will advance its cause
  • Affiliate with similar bodies sharing similar aims

The society undertakes a range of activities in pursuit of its general aims. Membership is £20 and provides Lectures excursions and a bi-Annual Transactions as well as a 6-monthly Newsletter.

North Worcestershire Archaeology Group

A relatively young group, formed in 2009, their aims are not only to investigate, analyse and record the history and archaeology of the region, but also to encourage interest and participation from the wider community. Single membership is £10 and members get the opportunity to be proper archaeologists, working alongside an experienced team of amateurs and professionals.

Their website (link below) contains details of a variety of projects that the group is undertaking – the emphasis seems to be very much about getting involved!

South Worcestershire Archaeological Group

The group aims to encourage local people to learn about archaeology and history. They offer walks and visits during the summer and lectures and workshops during the winter. They also undertake fieldwork when possible, including geophysical prospecting. The group has links with the Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeological Service (WHEAS), which enables members to be involved with community excavation projects. They have also worked in association with the National Trust at Croome Park over several years and with archaeology students at the University of Worcester.

Membership is £12 for individuals.

Useful Links

Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society
Coventry and District Archaeological Society
Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society
Staffordshire Archaeological and Historical Society
Worcestershire Archaeological Society
North Worcestershire Archaeology Group
South Worcestershire Archaeological Group

Oswestry & Border History & Archaeology
Kenilworth History and Archaeology Society
Kidderminster and District Archaeological and Historical Society

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