A great start has been made at the latest test-pit in the town. Volunteers needed for the weekend of 16th–17th June to continue with the dig – excavation, pot washing and identification.
A great start has been made at the latest test-pit in the town. Volunteers needed for the weekend of 16th–17th June to continue with the dig – excavation, pot washing and identification.
The Chichele Garden Fair 2018 is on Saturday 26th May from 9.00am – 3.00pm. The theme this year is Our Heritage and there will be an exhibition celebrating the life and work of the landscape gardener Humphry Repton (1752–1818) by the Northamptonshire Gardens Trust (NGT). There will be craft demonstrations, childrens’ activities and many garden stalls displaying and selling plants, herbs, flowers and accessories.
The Chester Farm Newsletter 8 is now available. Volunteers have been busy doing clearance work in the West Wood and installing pathways to provide safe access. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk for more information and to sign up for the latest news.
The committee met on the evening of Monday 14th May. Amongst the items discussed were sorting the HiFARS archives, the archaeology finds store and the forthcoming CHichele College Garden Fair on Saturday 26th May.
In January 2018 Rockingham Forest Trust began work on a new 3-year community heritage project – Settlers of the Nene Valley. Over the past 5,000 years the Nene Valley has seen successive settlements by Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Age, Roman, Saxon and Medieval settlers. The project will be working with individuals, local community groups and schools to explore, re-create and celebrate the lives of these settlers as they travelled, settled and traded along the Nene Valley. The project was launched at Stanwick Lakes on the evening of Wednesday 18th April when archaeologist Andy Chapman gave a great talk on the history of the Nene Valley. Go to www.stanwicklakes.org.uk/heritage/settlers-nene-valley for more information.
The committee met on the evening of Monday 9th April. Amongst the items discussed were the recent HiFARS talk on the Medieval Court Rolls, the British Tourism promotion day at Rushden Lakes, the Settlers of the Nene Valley project at Stanwick Lakes and preparation for the Summer HiFARS event Archaeology Allsorts.
A new six part series starts on Saturday 7th April at 8.00pm on Channel 4. Professor Alice Roberts and aerial archaeologist, Ben Robinson, explore the history of Britain through the stories of individual towns and cities revealing what life was really like at key moments in our past. Episode 1 is Roman Chester, episode 2 is Viking York, go to www.channel4.com for more information.
Death in the Garden: Poisonous Plants and Their Use Throughout History is the new illustrated book by Michael Brown. Its a detailed account of the medical and spiritual uses of poisonous plants and the intriguing stories connected to the different species. Michael designed the medieval garden at Prebendal Manor in Nassington, Northamptonshire and gave the HiFARS 2017 Christmas Lecture.
On the evening of Tuesday 27th March HiFARS Chair Olwen Mayes gave a talk on the medieval court rolls of Higham Ferrers at the Sports Pavilion. The accounts showed that residents of medieval Higham were found guilty of many crimes including assaults with daggers, sticks and stones; drinking, rowdiness, dice-playing, slander and eavesdropping.
As part of British Tourism Week several local organisations took part in an event in House of Fraser at Rushden Lakes on Saturday 24th March. HiFARS had a display, alongside Higham Ferrers Tourism, the Charter Group and the Chichele College Garden Volunteers.
Dr Mark Knight will be giving a talk in Oundle for the Middle Nene Archaeological Group on Britain’s Pompeii: Excavations at Must Farm on the evening of Friday 16th March. Go to CALENDAR and www.midnag.org.uk for more information.
The committee met on the evening of Monday 12th March. Amonst the items discussed were the forthcoming Medieval Court Rolls Talk, raising funds and applying for grants, and the Nene Valley promotion at Rushden Lakes on Saturday 24th March.
Ron Clayton shared his historical research on The Volta Tower, Finedon with HiFARS members and friends in the Sports Pavilion, Higham Ferrers on the evening of Thursday 8th March. As well as the Volta Tower, the interesting talk covered the Dolben family, ironstone mining, the Royal Navy, the slave trade and African river navigation.
Ron Clayton of Finedon History Society will be giving a talk on The Volta Tower in the Sports Pavilion in Higham Ferrers Recreation Ground on the evening of Thursday 8th March. The date for this event has been rearranged due to bad weather. Go to the CALENDAR for details.
HiFARS and ISE-DIG members along with the Scouts helped out Irthlingborough Archaeology Society with some pot washing in Irthlingborough on Saturday 24th February. There were bags of Roman finds to be cleaned from their Summer Digging in the Nene Valley. Go to www.irthlingboroughas.co.uk for more information later in the year about helping out at excavations in Summer 2018.
The second ‘Hard Hat Tour’ of St Peters Church, Raunds, took place on the afternoon of Thursday 15th February. John Ruddy, the lead structural engineer for the project, gave an interesting talk and tour of the works in progress. Underpinning to the South aisle has been completed – now the stone masons can place large stones over the piling holes, to restore the appearance of the wall to its original state. Strengthening bars, measuring 6 metres, have been inserted into the walls of the North aisle. These are hollow metal rods with holes in. The holes are covered with a cloth ‘sock’ and once the rods are in position, grout is pumped into them. This fills the sock which, in turn, moulds itself to the inner and outer walls, so creating a strong bond. The inadequate drainage channels have been replaced and improvements have been made to the lead overflow pipes, so that water from the roof goes down the pipes rather than over the top, as it did previously. A new metal frame has been inserted underneath the medieval clock to support it.
The committee met on the evening of Tuesday 13th February. Amongst the items discussed were raising money for the geophysical survey of the castle site, upcoming talks on the Volta Tower and the Court Rolls and a visit to Wollaston Museum. Keep an eye on CALENDAR for the dates.
Mary Beard will be discussing the myths surrounding the Roman emperor Julius Caesar Revealed on BBC1 at 9.00pm on Monday 12th February and Tori Herridge and Alex Langlands explore the UK’s industrial and maritime history with state-of-the-art technology on Britain at Low Tide on Channel 4 at 8.00pm on Saturday 17th February. The First Brit: Secrets of the 10,000 year old man is on Channel 4 at 8.00pm on Sunday 18th February.
Three groups of 30 children from Higham Ferrers Junior School Year 3 visited the Church, the Bede House, the Chantry Chapel and Chichele College on the afternoon of Monday 5th February. In the College HiFARS had put out a display of local Roman and Medieval finds, and historian Doreen Holyoak was displaying her research on the Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry Chichele.
Two HiFARS members attended a talk for the Wellingborough Archaeology and History Society on Monday 29th January. Mark Phillips, of Albion Archaeology, spoke about his work surveying historic buildings. He has been involved in the recording of a variety of properties ranging from stately mansions, such as Kenwood House in Hampstead, to a small cottage in Keysoe, built of cob, a mixture of clay, lime and a bonding agent such as straw. He also described timber-built onion drying sheds, which were a common sight in the Sandy area in the 19th century. These were open-fronted structures with a raised, slatted floor, and vented walls to allow for air circulation, and a thatched roof for weather protection. The WAHS hold meetings usually on the last Monday of the month, go to CALENDAR for details of upcoming talks.
HiFARS held a well-attended Finds Evening on Thursday 25th January in the Sports Pavilion, in the Recreation Ground in Higham Ferrers. HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, gave a round-up of recent HiFARS news including the Walnut Tree test-pits, and Loyd Wix brought along some finds from Colworth Archaeological Society. There were lots of finds brought along for identification including this fossil (above) from Christine Walker.
The Rockingham Forest Trust has announced an exciting new Heritage Lottery funded project based at Stanwick Lakes. Settlers of the Nene Valley will work with the local community to explore, recreate and celebrate the history of this ever-changing landscape. There will be opportunities to learn new skills in the traditional crafts and construction techniques which enabled people to settle and make their home in the valley, as well as school projects and community events. The three-year project starts in January 2018. The Trust is looking for volunteers to join the team, especially anyone who was involved in the original archaeological excavations. Go to www.rockingham-forest-trust.org.uk, www.nenescape.org and www.stanwicklakes.org.uk for more information about the project and the Nene Valley.
The first HiFARS event of 2018 is a social and Finds Evening on the evening of Thursday 25th January at 7.30pm in the Sports Pavilion, Vine Hill Drive in Higham Ferrers. Bring along any recent finds for identification. FREE for HiFARS members, £1 for visitors, refreshments available.
The postponed HiFARS Christmas Lecture was held on the evening of Friday 29th December in the atmospheric surroundings of the Bede House in Higham Ferrers. Michael Brown gave an account of a Medieval Christmas – the stories and traditions along with music and song. Refreshments included traditional ginger bread made to an historical recipe. Many members took the opportunity to renew their membership which is due in January, prices have not been increased. There will be another opportunity to renew at the Finds Evening on Thursday 25th January see CALENDAR, or by post just go to JOIN US for more information.
The Chester Farm Christmas newsletter is now available, catch up with all the latest news. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk for more information and to sign up for the newsletter.
The HiFARS Christmas Lecture for 2017, A Medieval Christmas, will now be on the evening of Friday 29th December 7.00–9.00pm in the Bede House, St Mary’s Churchyard, Higham Ferrers. Michael Brown, the historic gardener, will be talking about the traditions, food, drink and music associated with a medieval Christmas. Go to www.historicgardener.co.uk for more information about his work. Tickets are £3 for HiFARS members, £4 for visitors and £1.50 for students, FREE refreshments. This event was originally postponed because of snow but will now go ahead, see CALENDAR for details.
The committee met on the evening of Tuesday 28th November. Amongst the items discussed were the age and architecture of properties in the High Street and forthcoming arrangements for the HiFARS Christmas Lecture: A Medieval Christmas by Michael Brown on Sunday 10th December at 2.00pm. Tickets available now.
Higham Ferrers held its annual Sparkle event on Saturday 18th November. There was a fun fair, continental market, crafts and refreshments. HiFARS took part, along with over 30 other groups, in the Winter Wonderland festival in St Mary’s Church.
HiFARS members were invited, along with other local groups, to attend a ‘Hard Hat Tour’ at St Peters Church in Raunds on Thursday 16th November. St Peters contains many amazing medieval wall paintings and carvings, a rare medieval 24-hr clock and important stained glass windows. These features are being damaged by subsidence of the buildings but, thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Churches Trust and local donations, urgent repairs are now being carried out to stabilise the building and restore the stained glass and wall paintings. The tour began with an explanation from the site director of the reasons for the subsidence – mainly water damage, and how it will be rectified. Underpinning of part of the building has already begun, this involves screw piling into the walls, both inside and outside, to a depth of 7 meters into the bedrock. Metal tubes are inserted then filled with concrete. Another part of the restoration work will be to replace the drainage channels around the church to take the rainwater away more effectively, thereby preventing further damage. The restoration of the wall paintings is also underway; this involves much painstaking work on the part of the conservators. The paintings must first be carefully cleaned (this has revealed some previously unknown features), then stabilized to prevent flaking.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Wednesday 15th November. Amongst the items discussed were recent books and papers donated to the HiFARS archive, the Higham Ferrers Sparkle event and recent excavations in Irthlingborough. If any HiFARS member has an issue they would like to raise withe the committee please see the CONTACT page.
Six HiFARS members attended the Northamptonshire Archaeology Society’s Annual General Meeting and public lecture at the Humfrey Rooms, Northampton on Tuesday 14th November. Following a brief AGM, Elizabeth Craig-Atkins, Senior Lecturer in Human Osteology at the University of Sheffield, gave a very interesting talk on the Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project. Charnel chapels are medieval structures located in cemeteries of churches, cathedrals, abbeys, hospitals and monasteries and were used to house disturbed or disinterred human bone. The charnel chapel at Rothwell is located beneath the Holy Trinity Parish Church, and is one of only two surviving in situ medieval charnel chapels in England. The aims of the Project are to investigate and digitally record the skeletal remains and wall paintings, to study the structure of the chapel and its environment and to develop methods for the preservation and maintenance of the bones. Go to www.rothwellcharnelchapel.group.shef.ac.uk for more information.
On Sunday 5th November the Council for British Archaeology (South Midlands branch) held their Annual General Meeting and Oxfordshire Archaeological Review at Kirtlington, in Oxfordshire. Several members of HiFARS were present. The Chairman, Steve Lawrence who, incidentally, grew up in Higham Ferrers, gave us a warm welcome, then introduced the first of the three morning speakers, Rob Atkins, Project Manager at MOLA Northampton. Rob gave an account of recent excavations of prehistoric and Roman sites at Hanwell Fields, Banbury. Next, a representative of the South Oxfordshire Archaeological Group (SOAG) told us about a Roman site near Henley, a Roman villa at Goring and a Saxon building at Blewbury. The final speaker of the morning was Ruth Gibson, of Henley-on-Thames Archaeological and Historical Group. Ruth gave a fascinating account of some of the 15th century buildings in Henley. After a delicious lunch, and a brief AGM, Graham Keevill, Consultant Archaeologist at Keevill Heritage Ltd, told us about his recent work at Christ Church, Oxford, followed by Chris Ellis, Senior Project Officer with Cotswold Archaeology, who talked about excavations at Thame, which were carried out in 2015. John Boothroyd, Senior Project Manager at Oxfordshire Archaeology, was the next speaker. His talk was entitled: 15,000 years in a decade – excavations at Bridge Farm, Sutton Courtenay. The final talk came from the Chairman, Steve Lawrence, who described his busy year in Bicester – Mesolithic camps, Iron Age enclosures, Roman towns and deserted medieval villages.
The Northamptonshire Archaeological Society are holding their AGM in The Humfrey Rooms, Northampton on Tuesday 14th November at 7.00pm. The AGM is followed by the Public Lecture by Senior Lecturer in Human Osteology at Sheffield University, Elizabeth Craig-Atkins on The Rothwell Charnel Chapel Project at 7.20pm.
The HiFARS AGM was held in the Bede House, Higham Ferrers, on the evening of Saturday 28th October. After the AGM Dr Paul Stamper gave a great talk on The First Home Front: England’s First World War Heritage. Look out for Paul’s book The Home Front, to be published by Historic England in Summer 2018.
HiFARS chair, Olwen Mayes, attended the History Day held at Finedon Dolben Cricket Ground on Saturday 28th October. The event was organised by Northamptonshire Heritage Forum and Finedon Local History Society.
The talk at the HiFARS AGM this year is The First Home Front: England’s WWI Heritage by Dr Paul Stamper. The illustrated talk will look at what’s left of the huge infrastructure created to support the war effort – armaments factories, coastal defences, airfields and POW camps. Saturday 28th October at the Bede House, St Mary’s Churchyard, Higham Ferrers. The AGM starts at 7.00pm, the talk starts approx 15 minutes later. HiFARS members £2, visitors £3, everyone welcome. Free refreshments and book raffle.
Chester Farm newsletter No 7 is now available. Catch up with all the developments at the site, the progress of the Archive building and stories from David Dickinson, a previous inhabitant of the farm. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk for more information and to sign up for the newsletter.
Higham Ferrers will be featured on local radio on Monday 9th October at 1.00pm. HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, along with others, will be talking about the history of Higham and its significant buildings with Helen Blaby on Radio Northampton.
The Town Council, supported by Higham Ferrers Tourism, Business and Community Partnership has submitted a bid for Heritage Lottery Funding in an effort to conserve the ancient Royal Charters belonging to the town. The charters are important documents relating to the social and political development of the town. Higham Ferrers has 5 Royal charters dating from Philip and Mary 1556; James I 1604; Charles II 1664; Charles II 1684; Queen Victoria 1886 and one ancient byelaws document. The bid will enable the documents to be professionally restored, and then stored safely at Northampton Record Office. Full size facsimiles will be made and these will be displayed locally making them accessible to all. There will be a series of events to match fund the bid throughout 2018. Go to www.highamferrers-tc.gov.uk and www.highamferrerstourism.org.uk for more information. There will be a rare chance to see the charters on the morning of Saturday 30th September in the Town Hall on the Market Square. And the free Chichele Society Annual Exhibition in Chichele College at the weekend also includes information about the Charters, go to www.highamchichelesociety.org.uk.
Sunday 24th September, 8.00pm on Channel 4. The discovery of a ceremonial boat laid out in ‘flat-pack’ form sheds new light on how the Egyptians approached construction projects and moved the massive pieces of stone to build the pyramids.
Several HiFARS committee members attended the latest meeting of the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum at Rushden Hall on the evening of Wednesday 20th September. There was a presentation of the Northamptonshire Surpise website www.northamptonshiresurprise.com, a review of the Heritage awards and discussion regarding the Hindsight magazine, training, finances and the forthcoming History Day in Finedon.
Tony Robinson returns with a new series of Britain’s Ancient Tracks. The first episode on Saturday 23rd September at 7.00pm on Channel 4, will feature Dartmoor.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Monday 18th September. Amongst the items discussed were the AGM and Talk on Saturday 28th October (see the CALENDAR), a visit to Rushden Hall, the progress of the Higham Ferrers test-pit project and arrangements for digging at the weekend Saturday 23rd – Sunday 24th September at the Walnut Tree.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Wednesday 16th August. Amongst the items discussed were the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum Awards and Archaeology Allsorts. Following feedback from Allsorts, HiFARS will be holding Finds Identification Evenings starting in 2018.
Amongst the finds brought into Archaeology Allsorts for identification were these two small metal objects found by Paul Millard. Does anyone know what their specific use might be? The other objects are rounded clay cones, 7cm high, with flat circular bottoms which are 6cm in diameter. They have smooth sides, are hollow inside and were brought in by Stephen and Christopher Wainwright. If anyone has found similar objects and knows what they were used for, please go to CONTACT and send us an email, we’d be most grateful for any information.
Mr Norman brought in this find for identification. Is it a piece of land drain (which are more usually cylindrical) or perhaps box-flue (which are more often rectangular), and how old is it? Its 13cm square and 30cm in length. It was reused in the 1930s as an animal water trough which might explain the mortar on two of the sides. If anyone has seen similar square pieces please go to CONTACT and send us an email. The picture shows the piece, Olwen Mayes and Loyd Wix pondering its age and a piece of decorated box-flue as seen in the British Museum recently.
HiFARS held Archaeology Allsorts as part of the CBA’s Festival of Archaeology 2017 on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th July in Chichele College, Higham Ferrers. HiFARS finds officer Mark Patenall was kept very busy all weekend, and there are one or two finds where we’d love a second opinion. We’ll be publishing pictures of these items over the next few weeks, just go to CONTACT and send an email if you can help with the identification.
The 6th Chester Farm newsletter is now available. As well as the Summer excavation it covers the progress made on the 17th Century threshing barn and the Archaeological Research Centre (ARC). Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk for more information and to sign up for the newsletter.
HiFARS members and friends made a visit to Chester Farm on the evening of Wednesday 26th July for an update by archaeologist Ian Meadows. The volunteers, including HiFARS members, have been digging in the walled garden this Summer and a full report will appear on the website when the Dig closes on Friday 28th July. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk for more information about the site. The grounds are open for walks and the car park can be reached via Claudius Way off the A45.
The HiFARS event Archaeology Allsorts is part of the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology 2017. The event is FREE and will be held in Chichele College, Higham Ferrers on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th July. There will be finds identification, heritage displays, clay work and pot washing for the children.
The Northamptonshire Heritage Forum Awards for 2017 were held on the evening of Thursday 20th July at Sulgrave Manor. Among the winners were Clive Wood for his book Rushden Hall, Irchester Narrow Gauge Railway Museum and Rushden Museum. Go to www.mdem.org.uk for more information about Museum Development in the East Midlands and www.northamptonshireheritageforum.co.uk for more about the awards. The photograph shows HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, and Mike Brown, the Historic Gardener, at the awards. Mike Brown will be giving the HiFARS Christmas Lecture this year, check the CALENDAR nearer the time for details.
The new Adult Learning Courses for Northamptonshire have been announced. There are two archaeology courses available – Archaeology: A Beginners Guide and Archaeology of Medieval Britain. There are 2 starting dates for each course September 2017 and January 2018 and they are to be held in Northampton, Kettering and Sywell. Go to CALENDAR and www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/adultlearning for more information and to book places.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Wednesday 12th July. Amongst the items discussed were the Greyfriars Talk, the forthcoming Archaeology Allsorts event and digging opportunities at Chester Farm.
Archaeologist Mathew Morris gave a great talk on the evening of Saturday 8th July in the Bede House in Higham Ferrers. This was a follow-up of his Richard III: the King in the Car Park talk, and this time he covered the excavation of the Franciscan friary of Greyfriars in Leicester where Richard III was found.
A new exhibition at Peterborough Museum opened on 5th May and runs until Sunday 10th September. Must Farm is considered to be one of the most important Bronze Age sites in Europe, excavations at Must Farm in Whittlesey have revealed more about what life was really like for our ancestors living 3,000 years ago than ever before. Following on from the news articles and BBC documentaries this exhibition presents finds that have never been on public display before. Go to www.vivacity-peterborough.com/heritage for more information.
Oundle Museum, the Courthouse, Mill Road
The exhibition for 2017 is Oundle in the 1940s showcasing Oundle in times of War and Peace. The museum is open for the Sumer from 4th March to 29th October, Saturdays 11.00am – 5.00pm, Sundays and Public Holidays 2.00pm – 5.00pm. The museum is run by volunteers and is FREE but donations are always welcome. Go to www.oundlemuseum.org.uk for more information.
Digging is available to volunteers at several sites in the county in the Summer – Chester Farm 17th–28th July and Piddington 29th July – 27th August. Keep an eye on the CALENDAR and go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk and www.unas.org.uk for more information and to book a place. One of the trenches at the Walnut Tree Dig will be reopened for further excavation on the weekend of 2nd – 3rd September, this is part of the HiFARS Test Pit Project in Higham Ferrers and open to HiFARS members.
Following the success of the Richard III AGM Talk, archaeologist Mathew Morris will be back in the Bede House on the evening of Saturday 8th July, this time to talk about the discovery of Leicester’s lost Franciscan Friary. See CALENDAR for more information.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Tuesday 6th June. Amongst the items discussed were the visit to St Peter’s Church in Raunds, the Chichele Garden Fair and the upcoming events: Revealing Grey Friars and Archaeology Allsorts. Permission has been granted to extend the Walnut Tree test pits and a provisional date of Saturday 2nd – Sunday 3rd September was suggested. Keep an eye on the CALENDAR for updates.
It was sunny for this years Garden Fair held in the beautiful grounds of Chichele College on Saturday 27th May. HiFARS had a stall next to the Saffron Road gate, and it was lovely to see so many visitors. On display was the research into saffron-growing in Higham Ferrers along with Roman finds from the Kings Meadow Lane excavation.
The Chichele Garden Fair will be on Saturday 27th May 9.00am – 4.00pm and HiFARS will be having a stall and displaying research on the ‘cup-and-saucer’ and saffron-growing in Higham Ferrers. The theme this year is Walled Kitchen Gardens and there will be displays, plants for sale, crafts, cookery demonstrations, children activities, competitions, the Garden Doctor, scarecrows and refreshments. Entry is FREE. Go to www.chichelegarden.co.uk and www.highamferrerstourism.org.uk for more information.
There was a HiFARS visit to St Peter’s Church in Raunds on the evening of Monday 22nd May. St Peter’s is a stone church with origins dating back to the 12th Century. There was a guided tour with an optional climb up the tower. Of special interest are the 15th Century paintings on the north wall of the nave, uncovered during restoration in 1874. Photographs show: the interior; altar; bell ropes; stained glass window; the wall painting showing pride surrounded by the other deadly sins being pierced by death; background painting for the crucifixion; the inside of the 186ft spire and the exterior. Go to www.northamptonshireheritage.co.uk and www.achurchnearyou.com for more information.
On Saturday 20th May visitors were busy making bricks with the help of Tony Mugridge, the UK’s only traditional brick-maker, in the grounds of Chichele College in Higham Ferrers. They could also try their hand at making traditional Victorian peg dolls and willow weaving. There were also interesting historical displays and musical accompaniment by Dr Busker. There will be more crafts to try with Trading Places at Stanwick Lakes on Sunday 4th June, go to www.tradingplacescrafts.org.uk and www.stanwicklakes.org.uk for more information.
On the evening of Friday 19th May, Tony Mugridge traditional brick-maker, along with Helen Norman and Becky Gill of Rockingham Forest Trust, escorted a group on a history walking tour of Higham Ferrers. Starting from the Market Square, the tour took in the Queens Head, the Junior School and the brick factory at the bottom of Wharf Road. We saw the remains of the pug mill, the clay pit and various examples of brick along the way on local houses and factories. Trading places is managed by the environmental charity Rockingham Forest Trust and based at Stanwick Lakes. Go to www.stanwicklakes.org.uk and www.tradingplacescrafts.org.uk for more information about the work they do.
Learn all about the brick-making industry in Higham Ferrers at an event in Chichele College gardens on Saturday 20th May. There will also be guided history walk on the evening of Friday 19th May, see CALENDAR for more details.
Wellingborough Museum is celebrating 10 years of being at Dulley’s Baths. A photography exhibition is on display in the museum showing highlights from the decade.
The 5th Chester Farm newsletter is now available. It covers the construction of the new Archaeological Research Centre and recent work by the volunteers. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk for more information and to sign up to the newsletter.
The HiFARS members newsletter Hidden Depths 18 is now available. If you are a HiFARS member and haven’t yet received yours please go to CONTACT and make sure your name is on the list.
The first test-pit of 2017 will be attempted on Saturday 11th March in the Walnut Tree triangle in North End, Higham Ferrers. The project is open to HiFARS members and if you’d like to take part CONTACT the website or Hifars Chair, Olwen Mayes.
HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, gave an update on the geophysics of the Higham Ferrers castle site in the Pavilion on Monday 20th February.
The new courses for Spring 2017 have been announced. Tutor Gary Arthur will be teaching Archaeology – A Beginners Guide on Thursday evenings 7.00pm – 9.00pm at Ecton Village Hall starting on Thursday 27th April 2017. Go to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/adultlearning for more information, prices and to enrol.
There will be a HiFARS members meeting on Monday 20th February at 7.30pm in the Recreation Ground Pavilion, Vinehill Drive, Higham Ferrers. HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, will be giving a talk about the Castle site, a Geophysics update, the water source project and the Higham Ferrers test-pitting project. Bring your diaries to make a note of the dates for taking part. FREE for HiFARS members, refreshments available.
Northampton Museum closes for refurbishment on 19th February, it will reopen late 2018. Go to www.northampton.gov.uk/museums for more information.
The fourth newsletter from Chester Farm is now available. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk to sign up and to get more information.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Thursday 16th February. Amongst the items discussed were the forthcoming members meeting, recent finds from Chester Farm and dates for talks and outings in 2017. Go to CALENDAR to see local events of interest.
Archaeologist Ian Meadows was back at Chester Farm this week with a small team of volunteers, among them some HiFARS members. The cold weather was forgotten when one of the volunteers uncovered an almost complete decorated Roman flagon, and there was much excitement as we all gathered round to watch it being lifted. It was colour-coated Nene Valley ware, probably from the 3rd century. A twisted metal bracelet was also found in the same pit.
HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, attended a meeting of the Northamptonshire Heritage Forum at Kelmarsh Hall on Thursday 26th January. Go to www.northamptonshireheritageforum.co.uk for information.
The first HiFARS talk of 2017 was The Villa of Tiberius Claudius Severus – a peep into the past by Roy Friendship-Taylor in the Recreation Ground Pavilion, Higham Ferrers on the evening of Monday 23rd January. See the next HiFARS newsletter for a full report. Go to www.unas.org.uk for more information about the site and the Piddington Roman Villa Museum. Seasonal excavating is available for volunteers at Easter and throughout August in 2017, go to CALENDAR for more information.
The Northamptonshire Battlefields Society were in the Manor House Museum, Kettering on Saturday 21st January launching the new Northampton 1460 game. Mike Ingram gave an informative talk about The Battle of Northampton in the Alfred East Gallery in the afternoon. Go to www.northamptonbattlefieldssociety.com for more information about the society and forthcoming events.
The HiFARS committee met on Wednesday 18th January. The 2017 calendar, funding for geophysical equipment, test-pitting in Higham Ferrers and the forthcoming talk by Roy Friendship-Taylor on Monday 23rd January in the Pavilion were among the topics discussed. If you’d like to email the committee please go to CONTACT.
The first HiFARS Talk for 2017 will be The Villa of Tiberius Claudius Severus – a peep into the past by Roy Friendship-Taylor on the evening of Monday 23rd January in the Sports Pavilion, Higham Ferrers. Go to CALENDAR for more information. Roy and his wife Diana, have been excavating at Piddington, near Northampton, for the past 35 years with the Upper Nene Archaeological Society, and have uncovered a Roman villa and evidence of a Roman fort. Go to www.unas.org.uk for more information.
The HiFARS membership subscriptions have been reduced for 2017, and are now due. Single £5, Joint £8, Students £3 and Juniors (up to age 16) are still FREE with one paying adult. Thanks to everyone who has already paid. Renewal forms are available at all HiFARS events and can also be downloaded from this website, just go to JOIN US.
A small band of volunteers braved the weather to join archaeologist Ian Meadows at Chester Farm from Monday 9th to Friday 13th January for excavations ahead of service pipe laying. In addition to the post medieval farm buildings that had been uncovered previously, a Roman building was found, complete with floor, with adjacent Roman pits and ditches, which yielded many pot sherds, bones and oyster shells. There was also evidence of industrial activity – a Roman roasting furnace was discovered. These were used to heat ironstone to drive off the oxygen, prior to smelting. Several ironstone quarry pits were also found. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk for more information about the history of Chester Farm and volunteering opportunites.
Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott use the latest 3D scanning technology to uncover the unhidden history of 3 Italian cities, starting with Naples on Wednesday 4th January at 9.00pm on BBC 1.
A new 3 part series starts on Monday 2nd January at 9.00pm on BBC2. Chris Packham, Neil Oliver, Shini Somara and Andy Torbet investigate tombs, monuments, geology and recent archaeological discoveries to find out whether Orkney was the cultural capital of Stone Age Britain.
Professor Carenza Lewis of the University of Lincoln and Time Team fame gave the HiFARS Christmas Lecture for 2016 in the Bede House, Higham Ferrers on Sunday 18th December. The talk was on the new archaeological evidence for the impact of the Black Death and was followed by a members social meeting with wine and mince pies.
Tuesday 6th December at 9.00pm on BBC4
Professor Alice Roberts presents a new series of Digging for Britain, the 2016 Dig diaries of archaeology teams around the country including an update from Must Farm.
The Northamptonshire Heritage advent calendar starts today. Go to www.northamptonshireheritage.co.uk/pages/heritage-advent-calendar.aspx to countdown to Christmas Day with interesting local historical facts.
Professor Carenza Lewis will be giving the HiFARS Christmas Lecture Plague Pits: New Evidence for the Impact of the Black Death on Sunday 18th December at 2.00pm in the Bede House, St Mary’s Churchyard, Higham Ferrers. Advance tickets are now available, go to the CALENDAR or see local posters for more information.
The grounds at Chester Farm will continue to open throughout the Winter from 1st November – 31st March from 9.00am to 4.00pm. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk for more information and to sign up for the quarterly newsletter. The most recent newsletter covers the excavation of the Roman well, the finds from the bottom of it, and the continuing work of the volunteers.
Last chance to see the excellent exhibition Sunken Cities – Egypt’s Lost Worlds at the British Museum. The last day of the exhibition is Sunday 27th November. Go to www.britishmueum.org for more information.
A new 3 part series starts on Saturday 19th November on Channel 4 at 8.00pm. Tori Herridge and Alex Langlands explore Britain’s coastal archaeology.
A new series starts on Wednesday 16th November at 7.00pm on Yesterday. Trading History looks at the historical significance of artefacts for sale at auction.
A new website for Northamptonshire Heritage has launched. Go to www.northamptonshireheritage.co.uk to see a useful timeline for the county and information on historic buildings, figures, trade, transport and events. There is useful expert advice on archives, the Historic Environment Record (HER) and the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The website is still being developed, so visit soon and give feedback with the email button.
The Council for British Archaeology East Midlands division held their 2016 Autumn Conference entitled Trials and Triumphs – Archaeology in the 21st Century on Saturday 12th November in Southwell, in Nottinghamshire.
The Northamptonshire Archaeological Society, NAS, held their AGM and hosted a lecture by Paul Blinkhorn on People and Pots in Medieval Northamptonshire on the evening of Thursday 10th November in The Humfrey Rooms, Natural History Society in Northampton. Go to www.northants-archaeology.org.uk for more information.
The HiFARS committee met on Thursday 3rd November to discuss the calendar of events for 2017. Details will be available at the HiFARS Christmas Lecture on Sunday 18th December when Carenza Lewis will be talking about Plague Pits and Community Archaeology.
The Northamptonshire Archaeological Society is holding their AGM on Thursday 10th November in The Humfrey Rooms, 10 Castilian Terrace in Northampton. This will be followed by a FREE public lecture by Paul Blinkhorn People and Pots in Medieval Northamptonshire. Doors open at 6.30pm for refreshments, the AGM starts at 7.00pm followed by the lecture at 7.20pm.
The HiFARS 2016 AGM was held on the evening of Saturday 29th October at the Bede House in Higham Ferrers. After the AGM, Mathew Morris of University of Leicester Archaeological Services, gave a great talk on Richard III: the King under the Car Park – the search for the Grey Friars church, medieval Leicester, the excavation and the science behind the identification of the skeleton. Mathew’s illustrated book Richard III: The King Under the Car Park: The Story of the Search for England’s Last Plantagenet King was published in November 2013 and can be found on Amazon. Hopefully Mathew will be back for the HiFARS Summer Lecture in 2017.
Friday 28th October 8.00pm Channel 5
Historian Dan Jones returns with a new series telling the tales of Britain’s great fortresses, and he begins with Edinburgh Castle, the most besieged castle in the British Isles.
The HiFARS AGM will be held on Saturday 29th October at 7.00pm in the Bede House in Higham Ferrers. The AGM will be followed by a talk by Matthew Morris of the University of Leicester on Richard III: The King Under the Car Park. All welcome, HiFARS members £2, visitors £3. There will be a raffle and free refreshments.
The Council for British Archaeology South Midlands Autumn Conference 2016 was held on Sunday 23rd October at Hartwell, Northamptonshire. The theme was Roman small towns of the South Midlands.
The first lecture came from Steve Young, who talked about the recent work done by CLASP in conjunction with English Heritage at Bannaventa, a posting station situated on Watling Street, not far from Daventry. The project will combine data from field-walking, metal detection, geophysics, analysis of historical aerial photographs, and some trial excavations, and will be used to determine future conservation of the site.
Stephen Upex gave an account of the small town of Durobrivae, situated at the point where Ermine Street crosses the River Nene. It began as a small fort, built around AD 44, and gradually developed into a town, or vicus, famous for the production of pottery known as Castor ware, which has been found all over Europe. In 1975, a hoard of 4th century silver was found near the town, significantly this is the earliest Christian silver ever found. This is now in the British Museum.
After lunch, Ian Meadows described the ongoing work at Chester Farm, a walled Roman town near Irchester. The site is being developed as a heritage centre and archive store (see www.chesterfarm.co.uk).
Sarah Cobain, post-excavation manager at Cotswold Archaeology, gave an insight into life in the Roman town of Lactodurum (Towcester), from recent excavations at Moat Lane. Most of the pottery found was dated to AD 70-250/270, and there was much evidence of farming. One very rare find was that of a decapitated dog burial.
The final talk of the day came from Paul Booth, senior project manager at Oxford Archaeology, describing recent work at Dorchester on Thames. It is the only site in the country where there is evidence of towns dating from the late Iron Age, Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods that have not been developed over.
The Northamptonshire Association for Local History held their annual Heritage Day at Brixworth Village Hall on Saturday 22nd October, in association with the Brixworth Hiistory Society (BHS). A founder member of BHS, John Dawkins, began the day’s programme with an overview of Brixworth history. There is evidence of activity dating back to Neolithic times, a Roman villa was excavated in 1976, and Brixworth is well known as a Saxon settlement, but the main focus of Johns’ talk was from Medieval to the mid-20th century. This was followed by an amusing double act from BHS members Mike Hermann and Dave Blake, who presented their experiences growing up in post-war Brixworth. The final talk of the morning came from Colin Stephenson, a member of the Pytchley Hunt. The Hunt kennels were situated in Brixworth from 1819 until 1966, and many local industries associated with hunting, such as tailoring and boot-making, thrived during that time. After lunch, members of BHS gave guided tours of Brixworth village, the highlight being a look round the Church of All Saints, which dates back to AD 680.
Dr Alice Roberts, Dan Snow and Dr Albert Lin investigate a series of discoveries at the tomb guarded by the Terracotta Warriors on Sunday 16th October at 8.00pm on BBC 2.
Britain is criss-crossed by a myriad of ancient tracks that were once used by Celts, Romans, Saxons and Vikings. Tony Robinson will be following in their footsteps starting with Norfolk and Cambridgeshire in a new three part series staring on Saturday 15th October at 8.00pm on Channel 4.
There was a HiFARS committee meeting held on the evening of Tuesday 11th October. The HiFARS calendar for 2017 and the forthcoming AGM and talks were amongst the items discussed, please go to CALENDAR for the dates of HiFARS events.
The second newsletter from Chester Farm is now available. It covers the conservation and restoration of the farm buildings and the work of the volunteers at the site in 2016. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk to sign up and for more information.
The Northamptonshire Association for Local History (NALH) is holding a Heritage Day at Brixworth Village Hall on Saturday 22nd October. The programme includes Saxons, Spires and Squires by John Dawkins and the History of Pytchley Hunt, lunch, refreshments and a guided walk with a visit to Brixworth Church. There is a limited number of seats at £19.50 and the closing date is Saturday 8th October. Go to www.brixworthhistory.org and www.northants-history.org.uk for more information.
The Community Landscape Archaeology Survey Project, CLASP, are holding a Public Meeting on Wednesday 5th October in Harpole, Northants. Go to CALENDAR and www.claspweb.org.uk for more information.
The Chichele Society annual exhibition was held in Chichele College, Higham Ferrers on the weekend of Saturday 24th – Sunday 25th September. There was a fascinating display of local history which included the factories, pubs, businesses and the railway, as well as a special display about WW1 and the poppy.
Palaeontologist Dr Tori Herridge presents a three part series on Channel 4 starting on Sunday 24th September. She’ll be uncovering the exciting historical stories behind mammoth remains and finds from the Jurassic coast of Devon and Dorset.
The launch event for the Nene Valley Festival 2016 was an Open Day at Chester Farm on Saturday 17th September, member’s report to follow.
It’s been 350 years since The Great Fire of London started in the bakery of Thomas Farriner in Pudding Lane and the anniversary is being marked with an exhibition Fire! Fire! at the Museum of London running from 6th September – 17th April 2017. There are workshops, talks and walks, go to www.museumoflondon.org.uk for more information. Go to BBC4 at 8.30pm on Monday 5th September to see the burning of a commemorative art installation on the River Thames.
Higham Ferrers Town Council has charge of six parchment documents: Charter of 1556, Philip and Mary; Charter of 1605, James I; Byelaws of 1616, James I; Charter of 1664, Charles II; Charter of 1683, Charles II and Charter of 1887, Victoria. It is proposed by the Town Council, supported by Higham Ferrers Tourism Business and Community Partnership, that they are repaired, restored and kept at the County Records Office in Northampton, a suitable environment for their preservation. The council welcomes the views of the town, a questionnaire is available locally and should be completed and returned to the Town Hall.
HiFARS hosted the Heritage pop-up tent at the Farmers Market in Higham Ferrers on Saturday 27th August. There was a display of the most recent research on the castle site, and shoppers were reminded about the HiFARS talks Richard III on Saturday 29th October and the Christmas Lecture by Carenza Lewis on Sunday 18th December. Go to the CALENDAR for more information about the HiFARS talks later in the year.
On Sunday 21st August, HiFARS members and friends were given an in-depth tour of the Piddington Roman Villa Museum and excavation site by Roy Friendship-Taylor, who has been excavating there for 38 years. The award-winning museum, which is housed in a former Wesleyan chapel, displays some of the many finds from the site, a model of the Roman Villa and a life-size model of the villa owner, Tiberius Claudius Severus. Roy gave an informative talk, explaining the significance of many of the items on display. The museum also has a substantial store of excavated items, a library and study area. Following the tour of the museum, we were treated to tea, coffee and delicious cakes, made by Roys’ wife, Diana. We then drove a short distance to the excavation site. The Roman villa has already been excavated and back-filled but, in the adjoining field, an army of volunteers were busy with their trowels and buckets. There is evidence for a large Roman fort close by, and the area under scrutiny now is probably where the soldiers’ horses were kept. Excavations take place at Easter and during August each year, with some Sundays in the summer. Go to www.unas.org.uk for more information about joining in next year.
There was a HiFARS committee meeting on the evening of Wednesday 17th August. The success of Archaeology Allsorts and Romans in the Orchard the HiFARS talk by Ian Meadows were among the items discussed. The next meeting will be in September, see CALENDAR for details and go to CONTACT to raise any issue with the HiFARS committee.
Once again, several HiFARS members were to be found among the volunteers at Chester Farm over the summer. Archaeological excavations took place over several days in May, and two weeks in July, under the leadership of archaeologist Ian Meadows. There were also several sessions of land conservation, tour guide training and finds washing at Knuston Hall. If anyone is interested in volunteering at Chester Farm next year, email Rachael Bignell, volunteer co-ordinator at ChesterFarmVolunteer@northamptonshire.gov.uk. There is also a great deal of information on www.chesterfarm.co.uk and the Chester Farm Facebook page.
Tuesday 2nd August at 9.00pm on BBC4
Alice Roberts heads to Must Farm, in the Cambridgeshire Fens, where 3,000 years ago a village burned down and was consumed by peat. Everything was perfectly preserved, from swords to bowls containing food, and the excavation is now transforming our understanding of Bronze Age life.
As part of the CBA’s Festival of Archaeology for 2016, HiFARS will be hosting an event in the Town Hall, on the Market Square in Higham Ferrers, on Saturday 30th July from 9.00am until 2.30pm. FREE admission, family activities, roman pottery decoration demonstration and local archaeology displays. Make a day of it – also visit the Farmers Market and Art Exhibition in Chichele College.
Thanks go to Ian Meadows, archaeologist at Chester Farm, for a great talk on the Romans in the Orchard, held in the Sports Pavilion in Higham Ferrers on the evening of Thursday 21st July. The talk was attended by about 60 people, and hopefully Ian will be back next Summer to give us an update. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk for more information about the history of the site, walking the grounds and the volunteering opportunities for digging.
There is an opportunity for HiFARS members to join a Roman Dig at Nassington in Northamptonshire from Saturday 13th – Sunday 29th August. Go TO CONTACT and send an email to get the contact details.
A HiFARS committee meeting was held on the evening of Monday 18th July. The forthcoming talk by Ian Meadows and the Archaeology Allsorts event for the 2016 Festival of Archaeology were among the items discussed.
The programme of adult learning is now available, go to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/adultlearning for more information and enrolment. There is a new 10-week course Archaeology of Medieval Britain available in Daventry in September 2016, and Wellingborough in January 2017. The Beginners Guide to Archaeology is also running at Wrenn School, Wellingborough starting in September this year.
The Council for British Archaeology’s annual event is now underway. Go to www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk for events. The village of Rothley in north Leicestershire is looking for more volunteers with test-pitting experience to help out at their event Rothley’s Big Dig on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July, go to www.archaeologyuk.cbaem for more information.
Mayor Pam Whiting, HiFARS chair Olwen Mayes, Town Clerk Sandra Mitcham; the winners, presenters and judges; Lord Spencer; Robert Wharton of Wellingborough Museum and Mike Brown.
The Northamptonshire Heritage Forum Awards for 2016 were held in the Bede House in Higham Ferrers on the evening of Thursday 14th July. Go to www.northamptonshireheritageforum.co.uk for details of the event and winners.
Two weeks to go until the Festival of Archaeology 2016, Saturday 16th – Sunday 31st July. Organised by the Council for British Archaeology there will be events all over the country including Higham Ferrers. The HiFARS event Archaeology Allsorts will be held in the Town Hall on Saturday 30th July from 9.00am until 2.30pm. Go to www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk for more information.
Wellingborough Museum had their first guided heritage walk for 2016 on the evening of Wednesday 8th June. It included the old Wellingborough Zoo, Croyland Abbey, the Tithe Barn and the shops of Silver Street. The next walk is on Tuesday 21st June, and more will follow in July. Check the CALENDAR for dates, go to the Wellingborough Museum Facebook page and sign up for their newsletter.
The Higham Ferrers Archaeology and Research Society are currently engaged in a project to investigate the flow of water once it leaves the Castle Field moat in Higham Ferrers. In agreement with Historic England (formerly English Heritage), Higham Ferrers Town Council, and with advice from the Environment Agency (EA), a flourescent green dye was deposited into the Castle Field moat on the morning of Sunday 29th May. The dye is NON-TOXIC and is recommended by the EA. Currently, (no pun intended!) there is little or no flow so the places selected for monitoring will be visited by HiFARS members over the next few days to check on its progress. The dye is NOT HARMFUL to the environment and will remain in the water for up to 10 days, after which it will disperse. Go to www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency for information about waterways, river levels and environmental data. HiFARS welcomes any reports of the progress of the dye, please note the location, date and time and go to CONTACT on this website and send an email.
HiFARS had a stall at the 2016 Chichele Garden Fair held in the gardens of Chichele College on Saturday 28th May. HiFARS Finds Officer, Mark Patenall, was kept busy with identification. There were displays of the saffron fields research, a folded ‘scale’ beaker replica, the Higham Ferrers water source dye tracing project and medieval pottery. Capability Brown (Mike Brown) also visited the stall.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Thursday 26th May. Up for discussion was the forthcoming garden fair, events at Wellingborough Museum, availabilty of speakers for HiFARS events and current archaeological digs in Northamptonshire.
Trent & Peak Archaeology in partnership with Nottingham County Council and Historic England will be excavating an area in the Outer Bailey of Nottingham Castle in July/August 2016. Go to CALENDAR and www.archaeology.org/cbaem for more information on taking part.
The new exhibition Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds opens on Thursday 19th May at the British Museum. Featuring treasures from the recently rediscovered cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus, hidden by the Mediterranean for more than 1,000 years, it runs until the end of November. Go to www.britishmuseum.org for tickets and more information.
Don’t forget to book your place for the HiFARS visit to Prebendal Manor on Saturday 21st May. Go to CALENDAR and www.prebendal-manor.co.uk for more information. Numbers have to be confirmed by Friday 13th May.
HiFARS hosted the pop-up Heritage Tent at the Mayor’s Market on Saturday 7th May. There was a display of local medieval pottery and information about saffron-growing in Higham Ferrers. There was also singing from the choirs of Higham Ferrers Junior School and Henry Chichele Primary School, charity stalls, refreshments and a bouncy castle.
The grounds of Chester Farm opened to the public on Sunday 1st May and will be open for the Summer until the end of October. Organised walks will start in June. Access to the visitor car park is off the A45 east bound via Claudius Way. Go to www.chesterfarm.co.uk for more information and to sign up for the quarterly newsletter.
2016 is the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the landscape architect and royal gardener who changed the face of eighteenth century England, ‘designing country estates and mansions, moving hills and making flowing lakes and serpentine rivers, a magical world of green’. Go to www.capabilitybrown.org for more information about the man and the many events being held nationwide. See HiFARS CALENDAR for local events – a talk at Abington Museum, Northampton on Saturday 14th May and Capability Brown (Mike Brown the Historic Gardener) will be making an appearance at the Higham Ferrers Garden Fair in Chichele College on Saturday 28th May.
Wednesday 27th April at 9.00pm on BBC2
The start of a four part series in which Mary Beard explores the story of Rome, from backwater town to the centre of an empire.
Sunday 24th April at 8.00pm on Channel 4
In 2013 workers on London’s Crossrail tunnel unearthed 20 skulls beneath Liverpool Street station. Tests determined that they dated from the Roman era and archaeologists attempt to shed light on their burial. Were they gladiators, executed rebels or victims of ritual?
HiFARS invited Andy Chapman to talk to its members on Tuesday 19th April at the Sports Pavilion in the Recreation Ground, Higham Ferrers. The talk covered the excavation of the villages, farms and Saxon enclosures of East Northants particularly West Cotton near Raunds. HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, also updated the members on the water course experiment and the possibility of purchasing geophysical equipment.
Andy Chapman is in the Sports Pavilion, Higham Ferrers on Tuesday 19th April at 7.30pm to talk about West Cotton Medieval Village, go to CALENDAR for more information.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Wednesday 13th April. Items discussed included HiFARS stalls at the Mayors Market and the Garden Fair and arrangements for the Members Meeting West Cotton on 19th April.
Monday 4th April at 8.30pm on BBC1
Historian Dan Snow teams up with archaeologist Dr Sarah Parcak to locate and excavate Viking settlements in North America.
Three HiFARS members attended the Council for British Archaeology’s Spring Conference on Saturday April 2nd at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford, which is an ecclesiastical college in a beautiful village setting. The theme for the conference, which was very well attended, was Saxon Archaeology of the South Midlands. The first of the morning lectures, An overview of Saxon Oxford, with highlights from recent discoveries, was delivered by Ben Ford, Senior Project Manager at Oxford Archaeology. This was followed by Pieta Greaves, Conservation Co-ordinator at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, describing the ongoing conservation and research on the Staffordshire Hoard. The conservation work will be finished this year, and the research will be completed in 2017. The afternoon session began with John Blair, Professor of Medieval History and Archaeology at Oxford University, describing Anglo-Saxon landscapes of the South Midlands, with particular reference to the evidence that towns of the period were laid out in a grid pattern. David Ingham, Project Officer with Albion Archaeology was next, with a talk about Stratton, a deserted medieval village near Biggleswade. Archaeological excavations have shown that the village has Anglo-Saxon origins, with evidence of many sunken-featured buildings. The next talk was from Bernard Jones of Leighton Buzzard and District Archaeological and Historical Society, entitled An Early Saxon Burial Site at Hockliffe, Bedfordshire. The final talk of the day, Wufhere’s People – the Excavation of an Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Wolverton, Milton Keynes, was given by Bob Zeepvat, Principal Archaeologist with Bancroft Heritage Services.
Wellingborough Museum hosted a Victorian Day on Thursday 31st March. The event was busy and well attended, families enjoyed watching the blacksmith, stonemason and busker as well as the BBQ.
Saturday 26th March at 8.00pm on Channel 4
Archaeologist Kevin Colls, geophysicist Erica Utsi and historian Dr Helen Castor investigate William Shakespeare’s tomb at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon.
HiFARS finds were on show in the Town Hall at the Farmers Market on Saturday 26th March. There will be another chance to see some of the collection at The Mayors Market on Saturday 7th May.
HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, gave a talk on 19 College Street to the Chichele Society on Friday 18th March. Full report in the next newsletter.
HiFARS Finds Officer, Mark Patenall, organised a visit for HiFARS members to The WWI Trench Experience at Wellingborough Museum on Saturday 12th March. The talk was very informative, everything about life in the WWI trenches was covered from rifles and grenades to underpants and socks. Thanks to Jack, Tracey and Dan and everyone at Wellingborough Museum.
Thursday 10th March at 9.00pm on BBC 4
Alice Roberts and Matt Williams visit more archaeological digs across the country. In the first of a new series they head west to visit the site of an enormous lost Welsh city hidden for seven centuries.
On Monday 7th March HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, gave a talk to the Hallaton Field Walkers. Full report to follow.
Oundle Museum opens on Saturday 5th March for the 2016 season. Go to www.oundlemuseum.org.uk for more information.
The Council for British Archaeology holds all-day Spring Conferences with lunch for both the East Midlands and South Midlands divisions. HiFARS members have group membership for both organisations. The East Midlands conference is first on Saturday 19th March in Navenby, the theme is Aspects of Invasion in the East Midlands. Go to www.archaeologyuk.org/cbaem for information and booking (deadline 11th March). The South Midlands conference is on Saturday 2nd April in Cuddesdon, the theme is Saxon Archaeology of the South Midlands. Go to www.archaeologyuk.org/cbasm for information and booking (deadline 29th March).
Thursday 3rd March at 9.00pm on BBC 1
Historian Mary Beard explores what life was like 2,000 years ago in Pompeii. The latest technology, including point-cloud scanning, sheds new light on the great archaeological site.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Tuesday 1st March. Topics discussed included recent events attended by committee meetings, 19 College Street, the Wellingborough Museum Trench Experience and the upcoming CBA Spring Conferences. HiFARS members can raise any archaeological issue with their committee by going to CONTACT on this website.
Alina Hale with one of the authors, Nick Hill.
HiFARS chair, Olwen Mayes, and treasurer, Alina Hale, attended the book launch of Buildings and People of a Rutland Manor on Saturday 27th February at St Andrews Church, Lyddington in Rutland. The book is a 368 pages, full colour hardback and can be purchased for £15, go to www.lyddingtonhistory.org.uk for more information.
HiFARS chair, Olwen Mayes, manned a new pop-up Heritage Tent at the Farmers Market on the morning of Saturday 27th February. There was a display of Roman Samian ware, next month Medieval pot sherds from Higham Ferrers, go to CALENDAR for the date.
Don’t forget to book your place for the HiFARS visit to the WW1 Trench Experience at Wellingborough Museum on Saturday 12th March with Finds Officer Mark Patenall. Go to CALENDAR for more information.
The new Adult Learning Courses April–July 2016 brochure is now available. History courses on offer include A History of Post-War Britain, Ancient Warfare and The Impact of Mythology in the Ancient World. Go to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/adultlearning for more information.
On the evening of Monday 22nd February HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, gave a talk on her recent research into the possible Saxon meeting places in Higham Ferrers. The next HiFARS members meeting is on Tuesday 19th April, check the CALENDAR for details.
The postponed HiFARS Christmas Lecture was held at the Bede House, Higham Ferrers, on the afternoon of Sunday 31st January. Nick Hill of Historic England (English Heritage) gave a great talk on Medieval Houses in East Leicestershire and Rutland. Some Northamptonshire buildings, such as our own Bede House, also got a mention. The lecture was followed by refreshments and a HiFARS members meeting. Kathie Dunn, former treasurer of HiFARS, was presented with a bunch of flowers and thanked for all her hard work keeping the finances in order.
Sunday 24th January at 6.30pm on BBC 2
David Attenborough looks at the discovery of a previously unknown dinosaur in Patagonia. Over 200 buried bones may belong to the largest animals to have ever walked the earth.
Thursday 21st January at 9.00pm on BBC2
Historian Michael Wood hosts a six part series and explores the dawn of civilisation in the far east 4,000 years ago.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Monday 18th January to discuss the 2016 calendar. Members can raise any archaeological issue with the committee by going to CONTACT on this website.
A few HiFARS members had the opportunity to volunteer at Chester Farm from 11th-15th January. Ian Meadows was once again supervising excavations on the site, ahead of contractors, who will be constructing a new car park and putting in services. Despite the cold weather, it was an enjoyable experience for the volunteers, and all agreed it was well worth doing. There were no skeletons this time, but plenty of interesting finds were revealed, ranging from the Neolithic period to modern times. There will be further opportunities for HiFARS members to volunteer at Chester Farm later in the year, when the weather will, hopefully, be warmer.
The postponed HiFARS Christmas Lecture will now take place in the Bede House, Higham Ferrers on Sunday 31st January at 2.oopm. Nick Hill will be talking about Medieval Houses. Go to CALENDAR for more information.
Monday 4th January at 9.00pm on BBC2.
Egyptologist Professor Joann Fletcher reveals how Egypt’s people went from primitive farmers to the builders of the pyramids in a new four part series.
There are still some tickets left for the illustrated inter-linked talks by Malcom Deacon at Milton Malsor Village Hall on Saturday 20th February 2016 10.00am – 4.00pm. Talks include The Courtier & the Queen detailing the unique relationship of Sir Christopher Hatton and Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots culminating in her execution at Fotheringhay, and The Princess & the Gunpowder Plotters – the planned abduction of James I’s daughter as part of the infamous Gunpowder Treason. Tickets are £20 which includes lunch and refreshments. Contact Malcom for more information and tickets on firstname.lastname@example.org and 01604 858363.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Tuesday 15th December to discuss a calendar of events for 2016. Details will follow when confirmed.
Paul Blinkhorn’s 12 talks on Anglo-Saxon and Viking England begin again on Monday 30th November in the Olde England pub in Kettering Road, Northampton. Tickets are £3 per week available from the upstairs bar at the pub each week.
The HiFARS committee made a good start cataloguing the HiFARS finds collection on the morning of Sunday 30th November. We began with the finds from dog-walking HiFARS members in Higham Ferrers which have been donated to the Society – a wide selection of objects from Roman and Medieval pot sherds, clay pipes, china dolls heads, iron nails and building materials.
The public lecture for the Northamptonshire Archaeological Society at The Humfrey Rooms, Northampton on the evening of Thursday 26th November was Continuity and Change in the Local Landscape by Stephen Young. A full report will follow.
The Christmas Sparkle event in Higham Ferrers on Saturday 21st November was a great success. The HiFARS exhibit of Aladdin’s Cave proved very popular with children.
The opportunity has arisen for the Higham Ferrers community to develop a Heritage Centre. The Town Council has been offered the use of 19 College Street and are considering whether they should provide this for the community. During the consultation for the Neighbourhood Plan, a number of residents indicated that the town should have a Heritage Centre to promote the history of the town, encourage visitors and also to allow residents the opportunity of displaying private collections of artefacts and objects usually not accessible. The Council would like the views of Higham Ferrers residents as part of their decision-making process. Go to www.highamferrers-tc.gov.uk for more information and to complete the survey.
Medieval Archaeology was the theme of the conference for the Council for British Archaeology East Midlands division held in Kibworth, Leicestershire on Sunday 15th November. The talks included Anglo-Scandinavian Pottery in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, Burials in Hallaton, Friaries in the East Midlands, the diet of Richard III and various medieval building techniques. Keynote speaker was Michael Wood who talked about The Kibworth Project and the Story of England. The committee members who attended approached various speakers for future HiFARS talks and made enquiries about Resistance Meter packages which were on display. Go to www.archaeologyuk.org/cbaem for more information about the Council for British Archaeology East Midlands division.
Just one week to go to see this exhibition, the story of the museum told in 150 objects, from torques to kinky boots! See CALENDAR and www.northampton.gov.uk for more information.
HiFARS Finds Officer, Mark Patenall, took part in various activities organised for school children at Wellingborough Museum recently. He gave a talk on the Romans at Chester Farm on Wednesday 4th November and a talk on Dinosaurs and Fossils on Thursday 5th November. Go to www.wellingboroughmuseum.co.uk for information about events and talks for schools.
The Quizeum is back for a second series on Monday nights on BBC4 at 8.30pm. Museums visited include London’s Jewish Museum, the Burrell Collection, Glasgow and the Imperial War Museum.
The Irchester Parish Historical Society (IPHS) and the Northamptonshire Association for Local History (NALH) held a very well-attended History Day at Irchester Village Hall on Saturday 31st October. The day began with an overview of the history of the parish of Irchester by Jon-Paul Carr, Chairman of both IPHS and NALH, with many photographs of the village from times past. After a coffee break, Ian Meadows, a freelance consultant archaeologist, gave an account of the Roman town at Chester Farm. Ian has been involved with the ongoing work at Chester Farm since 1992, and his talk centred on the recent excavations that have taken place in the last few years. Ians’ talk was followed by village recollections from John Mann, the first wartime evacuee baby to be born in Irchester, and Jan Arnold, whose family have lived in Irchester for over 500 years. After lunch, IPHS members gave guided village walks, which included a talk in St Katherines Church by Keith Lovell, historian and lecturer on church architecture, stained glass and heraldry.
The HiFARS AGM was held on the evening of Saturday 24th October in the Sports Pavilion in Higham Ferrers Recreation Ground. After the reports from the Secretary and Chair, the committee members were re-elected. The Chair thanked retiring Treasurer Kathie Dunn for all her hard work and the committee welcomed new committee member Alina Hale to the position. Andy Chapman, Senior Project Manager at MOLA Northampton, gave a fascinating talk about Looking for T-Rex in the Hell Creek Badlands of Montana and HiFARS Finds Officer, Mark Patenall, provided an accompanying display of dinosaur fossil finds.
Thursday 22nd October at 9.00pm on BBC 2. The start of a new historical saga – the clash of invading Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons in 9th century England.
Sunday 18th October at 8.00pm on Channel 4. An exploration of the archaeolgy of the tombs of the Han Dynasty, an era of history that defined China’s cultural identity.
Wellingborough Civic Society held their monthly talk in the Dulley Room at Wellingborough Museum on the evening of Thursday 15th October. Archaeologist Ian Meadows gave a talk on the history of Chester Farm and brought us up-to-date with the digging of the site. Several members of HiFARS have been involved in the Summer excavations and Ian made a point of thanking them for the professional work they’ve carried out there. Go to www.wellingboroughcivicsociety.org.uk and www.wellingboroughmuseum.co.uk for more information about upcoming talks.
Wednesday 14th October at 8.00pm on Channel 4. A new series exploring the work of The Landmark Trust and the renovation of important historical properties. Go to www.landmarktrust.org.uk for more information about their work.
Save the date Saturday 24th October for the HiFARS AGM and Talk. Go to CALENDAR for more information.
Monday 5th October on BBC2 at 9.00pm. Alice Roberts and Neil Oliver open a new 3-part examination of the ancient civilisation of the Celts – their origins in central Europe and the conflict with the Romans.
Sunday 4th October on Channel 4 at 8.00pm. A documentary charting the progress of archaeologist Dr Kathleen Martinez as she searches for the final resting place of the Queen of the Nile.
Sunday 27th September on Channel 4 at 8.00pm. A documentary following the efforts of a team from the University of The Witwatersrand as they excavate the fossilised remains of an unknown species of human ancestor.
The Chichele Society held their annual exhibition in the Chantry Chapel, St Mary’s Church on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September. The exhibition was very busy, of particular interest to HiFARS members was the research that has been undertaken on 19 College Street, Higham Ferrers. (See HiFARS members meeting report in NEWS on 27th March 2015). The exhibition also included the local connection with the Battle of Waterloo in this bicentenary year.
A new exhibition opened at the British Museum, Russell Street, London on Thursday 24th September, and it will run until Sunday 31st January 2016. Its the first major exhibition to examine the full history of Celtic art and identity. Artefacts on display include the Iron Age treasures – the Waterloo helmet and the Battersea shield, roman jewellery and early medieval manuscripts and crosses. Also on display is the beautiful bronze mirror found in Desborough, Northamptonshire. Go to www.britishmuseum.org for more information.
The 2015 Nene Valley Festival is now in full swing. The Festival runs from Saturday 19th September to Sunday 27th September. Go to CALENDAR and www.nenevalley.net/festival for information on all the events – food & drink, arts & heritage, sports & entertainment. Track down your FREE tote bag and win a prize in the competition.
Tuesday 15th September is the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. There will be a memorial fly past of 40 Second World War-era fighter planes – Spitfires, Hurricanes and Blenheims – from across the world taking off from Goodwood Areodrome in the afternoon. A documentary charting the preparations will be shown on Channel 4 at 8.00pm.
Two mills in Bedfordshire were open to the public as part of the Heritage Open Days 2015 project. The Friends of Bromham Mill were giving guided tours of the 18th century mill and its waterwheel on Saturday 12th September. The internal workings of the 18th century postmill at Stevington were open to the public on Sunday 13th September. The windmill is constructed around a central post so that it can be turned to face into the wind, and its the only complete windmill in the county.
As part of Heritage Open Days 2015 the Keeper of Archaeology at the Higgins Museum, Liz Pieksma, gave an informative guided walk around Bedford on Friday 11th September. Starting with the teeth of Ice Age mammals found by Victorian builders we covered Saxon churches, medieval fortifications and Bedford Castle. Go to www.thehigginsbedford.org.uk for more information about the archaeological artefacts in the Higgins Museum in Bedford.
A HiFARS committee meeting was held on Thursday 3rd September. Issues discussed included the many housing developments in Higham Ferrers, the progress of the Test Pit Project, the clearance of the moat and possible speakers for the AGM and Christmas lectures. The next committee meeting will be on Monday 9th November, HiFARS members can raise an issue for the committee by going to CONTACT on this website.
A HiFARS members report about the Dinosaur exhibition at Wellingborough Museum which ended on Saturday 29th August will follow in a few days time.
Several HiFARS members were among over 60 volunteers who enjoyed an exciting two weeks helping with the excavation of a Roman cemetery at Chester Farm. The dig was opened to the public from 17th – 29th August under the supervision of archaeologist Ian Meadows. Volunteers were from all walks of life, of all ages, from students to pensioners, and all thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Each day saw the arrival of a different set of volunteers, as not many people could devote the whole two weeks to the project, so Ian gave an introductory talk every morning, then assigned us to a variety of tasks. These included washing the finds, digging small trenches (most of the heavy work had already been done by machinery), trowelling and exposing walls, ditches and skeletons, both human and animal, and lifting, bagging and labelling the finds. Everyone had a chance to do a bit of everything, which we all considered an amazing opportunity. We were also shown how to use a Dumpy level for recording the height of the site, and how to record each burial. Each burial is recorded on a site plan, the skeletons are photographed and skilfully drawn, then given a detailed written description, which includes length, width and depth, soil type, orientation of the body and whether or not the skeleton is complete. A small sketch of the skeleton is also added. Once the bones are lifted and washed, they are sent for further analysis, to discover their age, gender and possible family relationships. An incredible experience, I’ll definitely be back next year!
There will be a busy bank holiday weekend Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th August in Higham Ferrers. On Saturday morning there’s the Farmers Market (as usual for the last Saturday in the month) and the Neighbourhood Sale (get your maps on the market square). The Artisans’ Weekend is in Chichele College all weekend 10.00am – 4.00pm. There is also the annual Fun Fair in the Castle Field until the 31st August.
Several HiFARS members are busy taking part in Summer Digging at Chester Farm, Irchester. A full report will be available soon on the website and in the newsletter.
Sunday 23rd August on Channel 4 at 8.00pm. New series in which 10 celebrities experience life in different historical eras. Episode 1 has them in 1588 as Elizabethan servants.
A HiFARS committee meeting was held on the evening of Thursday 13th August. Issues discussed included the success of the Archaeology Allsorts event, possible speakers for future lectures and the new shelving units for the HiFARS finds store. New HiFARS member Alina Hale was welcomed to the committee. The next committee meeting will be on 3rd September, go to CONTACT to raise any local archaeology issue.
As part of the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology 2015, HiFARS held Archaeology Allsorts in Higham Ferrers Town Hall on Saturday 25th July. There were displays of local finds, pottery demonstrations, finds identification, pot washing and a historical town tour. A full report will appear in the next newsletter.
Items from the Staffordshire Hoard are now on permanent display at a new gallery in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. Hundreds of pieces are on show where microscopes help you to see the exquisite craftmanship and the detailed work of the conservators. Items from the hoard are also on permanent display at The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Lichfield Cathedral and Tamworth Castle. Go to www.staffordshirehoard.org.uk for more information. A travelling exhibition is still on the road – from Tuesday 8th–Sunday 20th September its at St Marys Church, Colton in Staffordshire and from Tuesday 22nd September–mid December its at Walsall Leather Museum.
Sunday 19th July at 8.00pm on Channel 4. Engineers from the Crossrail construction project have uncovered a 300-year-old graveyard that reveals intriguing new information about the people who built London.
There was a HiFARS committee meeting on the evening of Monday 13th July. Issues discussed included arrangements for the upcoming Archaeology Allsorts in the Town Hall on Saturday 25th July and other CBA Festival of Archaeology events in the area, see the CALENDAR. New shelving has been purchased for the HiFARS finds store and if any member would like to help with their assembly feel free to join the committee members at Chichele College on the evenings of Thursday 6th and Friday 7th August.
The last of the FREE Heritage Walks around Wellingborough took place on Tuesday 7th July. Thanks go to Robert and Helen Wharton of Wellingborough Museum, and hopefully the walks will be repeated next year for anyone who missed them. Look out for illustrated talks about the History of Wellingborough at the Museum later in the year, go to www.wellingboroughmuseum.co.uk for more information.
The new Northants County Council brochure for Adult Learning is now available. There are 2 courses on Ancient History available as part of the Summer School and a Beginners Guide to Archaeology starting in September at two locations. Go to CALENDAR for the dates, and to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/adultlearning for more information.
The event on Saturday 4th July was organised by the University of Leicester to mark the launch of the Council for British Archaeology Festival of Archaeology 2015. HiFARS took part and a report will appear in the next newsletter. Go to www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk/whatson for more information about events in the East Midlands area throughout July.
The new Physic Garden in Chichele College, Higham Ferrers was officially opened on the evening of Thursday 2nd July. The garden was designed by Jill Stewart following the 2014 design project with Moulton College. It contains plants which may have been grown for medicinal and culinary use by the College residents at the time of Henry Chichele, who was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 1414. Jill also designed the Chichele Border against the North Wall near the Cloister Garth. The border contains plants representing Chichele’s life including primula veris (the official wildflower of Northamptonshire) and rosa gallica officinalis (the House of Lancaster’s red rose). Go to www.chichelegarden.co.uk and www.highamferrerstourism.org.uk for more information.
A two part documentary on Thursday 2nd and Thursday 9th July on BBC1. Presenter Dallas Campbell explores Britain below ground including – the water in the Roman Baths of Bath, the basalt rock beneath Edinburgh Castle, ground-penetrating radar for measuring oak tree roots and the metal detecting of Saxon hoards.
HiFARS will be taking part in the launch event for the CBA’s Festival of Archaeology 2015 to be held at the University of Leicester on Saturday 4th July. Lots of archaeology and history societies from Leicester and the surrounding area will be taking part including the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Jewry Wall Museum, Leicestershire County Council Museums, the Richard III Visitors Centre, Leicestershire Industrial History Society, the CBA East Midlands, Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, the National Trust and many others. Go to CALENDAR for more details.
Willington Dovecote and Stables, a National Trust property, was the setting for an Archaeology Fair, organised by the Willington Local History Group, on Sunday 28th June. Inside the stable building were a number of historical and archaeological displays, as well as an information and book stall by Albion Archaeology. There were displays from several other local archaeology groups in the grounds, and lots of volunteers were enjoying digging test pits and pot washing. The dovecote itself was open to visitors, as it is on the last Sunday of every month between April and September, and is well worth a visit. The afternoon was finished off nicely with tea and cake in the nearby church, while listening to an organ recital.
The HiFARS members newsletter is now available. If you are a HiFARS member and haven’t yet received yours please go to CONTACT and make sure your name is on the mailing list, it’s available by post or email.
HiFARS members can sign up to take part in Sumer Digging at Chester Farm, near Irchester in Northamptonshire. You can do as many days as you like between Monday 17th – Friday 28th August. Go to CONTACT and send an email request for information.
HiFARS hosted a talk on Richard III and the Greyfriars Dig on Tuesday 2nd June in Chichele College, Higham Ferrers. Sally Henshaw of the Leicester branch of the Richard III Society spoke to a full house about Richard III – the last Plantagenet warrior king, killed aged 32 at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and who lay in an unknown grave for over 500 years. The talk covered the search, discovery, excavation and identity verification of the ‘skeleton under the car park’ – the most inspirational archaeological detective tale of our time.
Monday 1st June at 9.00pm on BBC 1
Alexander Armstrong and Dr Michael Scott explore the underground treasures that made Rome the powerhouse of the ancient world, using 3D scanning technology to uncover its secrets.
Historian Dan Snow presents a three part series on BBC2 starting on Sunday 24th May at 9.00pm describing the battles between the Spanish and English fleets at the time of Elizabeth I.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Tuesday 19th May. Issues discussed included the upcoming HiFARS Talk on Richard III and the Greyfriars Dig on Tuesday 2nd June, the Water Courses Project and possible sites for the next test pit in the Higham Ferrers test-pitting Project.
Robert Wootton, a National Trust volunteer at Lyveden New Bield, gave a fascinating talk to members of Wellingborough Archaeology and History Society on Monday 18th May on the history of the Tresham family. He described the lineage of the family from the first Tresham to settle in Northamptonshire. Go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk for more information about Lyveden New Bield and its Elizabethan Garden.
The Dig scheduled for Sunday 3rd May was postponed again due to terrible rain. Keep an eye on the CALENDAR for a revised date.
The bank holiday weekend, Saturday 2nd – Monday 4th May, is fast approaching, check the CALENDAR for all the local events – Rushden Cavalcade, Civil War! at Flag Fen and Georgian Games at Wrest Park. There is a Village Trail in Ringstead and the postponed 1st HiFARS Dig-for-a-Day on the Sunday. The Mayor’s May Fair will take place on the Market Square in Higham Ferrers on Saturday 2nd May 9.00am – 2.00pm and features the May Queen, traditional maypole dancing, stalls, pavement cafe, ice cream and entertainment.
Rushden Museum reopens for the Summer Season on Saturday 2nd May. Go to www.rushdenmuseum.co.uk for opening times and more information. This years exhibition is WWI Rushden in 1915.
Tuesday 28th April at 9.00pm on BBC1
Six celebrities immerse themselves in the Victorian era to experience the back-breaking work and squalid living conditions that were the norm for working-class people. This is the first episode of a four part series.
For a totally atmospheric performance of Shakespeare’s King John go to the Holy Sepulchre Church in Northampton before Saturday 16th May, see CALENDAR for details. ‘With chanting, music, singing and incense, this is ritual theatre in its finest form’ – Express.
There are six large-scale medieval knight sculptures in Northampton Town Centre celebrating the town’s rich history. The wooden knights have been carved by three acclaimed chainsaw artists and each of the knights represents a significant event including the creation of the Magna Carta in 1215, the last parliament held at Northampton Castle in 1381 and the Battle of Northampton in 1460. The knights form part of a town trail, see CALENDAR for details and go to www.northampton.gov.uk for more information.
The South Midlands branch of the Council for British Archaeology held a conference entitled Castles of the South Midlands: Recent Research at the Town Hall, Towcester on Saturday 25th April. Three HiFARS committee members attended.
Steve Capel-Davies, Chairman of the Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society (TWHAS), gave the first talk, which was entitled Wallingford: a Power in the Land. Wallingford was a large, fortified town, or burh, built by King Alfred, and was comparable in size to his capital, Winchester. In 1066, Wallingford was a vital Thames crossing point for William the Conqueror, who had a massive castle built here. It became one of the largest castles in the country, with a square keep, three baileys and ramparts to the north, west and south. Following a three year pilot study, TWHAS was awarded funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Board UK for a major three year programme involving detailed documentary, geophysical and topographical surveys which, together with extensive garden test-pitting, has provided a detailed understanding of the Saxon origins, Norman remodelling and Medieval development of Wallingford.
The second talk was a joint presentation from Dr Steve Ashby and Dr Aleks McClain of the University of York on the Torpel Manor Archaeological Research Project. Torpel Manor Field is a Scheduled Ancient Monument near Helpston, in the soke of Peterborough, which contains a series of medieval and later earthworks. Very little archaeological work has been done on the site, and the aim of this project was to develop a greater understanding of its character, context and development. Detailed archival and earthwork surveys, followed by magnetometry and resistivity surveys, has shown evidence of a ringwork construction, surrounded by earthworks that suggest further development throughout the medieval period. A large number of late- to post-medieval artefacts have been found by local residents and this has helped with the interpretation of the site.
After lunch and a short tour of Towcester, Joe Abrams, Regional Manager of Headland Archaeology South & East gave a talk about Lutons’ two medieval castles. The earliest castle was a motte and bailey type, built by Robert de Waurdari in 1139; this was demolished in 1154. The second castle, which Headland have been excavating, was built by Fulk de Breaute, Anglo-Norman knight and favourite of King John, between 1216 and 1221. His home in London was called Fulks Hall, later Fox Hall, then Vauxhall, the name taken by the motor company based in Luton. Fulks’ heraldic emblem, the griffin, is still used as the Vauxhall badge. Fulk made many enemies in England, and exiled to France, where he was allegedly poisoned in 1226.
Andrew Norton, Regional Manager of Wessex Archaeology North, gave an interesting talk on Oxford castle, which was originally a fortified burh, probably built in the tenth century, to defend against the Vikings. A wooden rampart with a ditch surrounded most of the present-day centre of Oxford; stone walls were added later. Although the positions of the north, south and east gates have been known for some time, the position of the west gate was uncertain. It was probably destroyed when the Normans arrived and built a castle on the west side of the town.
The final talk of the day was entitled In search of Northampton Castle by Andy Chapman, Senior Project Manager at MOLA Northampton. Andy gave a brief history of the castle from when it was built in the late eleventh century to its demolition in the nineteenth century, to make way for a railway station. Excavations prior to the building of a new, larger station revealed evidence of the sites’ Saxon, medieval and Victorian past.
HiFARS Chair Olwen Mayes led a walk around the town on the evening of Thursday 23rd April exploring the water courses of Higham Ferrers – the castle field moat, the wells in Chichele College and the cup-and-saucer in the recreation ground. The walk concluded with refreshments and maps in the Pavilion.
Check out the CALENDAR page for upcoming HiFARS events. Next week on the evening of Thursday 23rd April there’s the HiFARS Walk & Talk on the cup-and-saucer, Sunday 3rd May is the date of the postponed first Dig-for-a-Day, and the Archaeology Allsorts event has been confirmed for Saturday 25th July, its part of the CBA Festival of Archaeology. HiFARS are members of the CBA South Midlands division and their Spring Conference is on Saturday 25th April – the Castles of the South Midlands – several HiFARS committee members will be attending. Go to www.archaeologyuk.org/cbasm for more information and booking.
A HiFARS committee meeting was held on the evening of Monday 13th April. Issues discussed included dates for a talk about Richard III, the Saffron Moat Research Project, Archaeology Allsorts and the recent Heritage Day at Wellingborough Museum. If any member wishes to raise a point with the committee please send an email via the CONTACT page.
Wellingborough Museum held a Heritage Day in the Easter holidays on Thursday 9th April. A HiFARS report will follow shortly.
The New York Times 4th April 2015 has an interesting feature on museums selling off their prize assets and the article features Northampton Museum and the sale of Sekhemka, the 4,500 year old limestone statue. Go to www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/arts/design Seeing a Cash Cow in Museums’ Precious Art to read the full article. Northampton Museum was stripped of its accreditation and became ineligible for national government grants after the statue was sold to finance a museum remodelling.
Friday 3rd April 8.00pm on Channel 5
Historian Dan Jones visits castles around the UK starting with the great defensive castle of Dover, a 12th century monolith that has resisted all enemies from Medieval times through to the Cold War.
Wellingborough Museum are still running their Trench Experience on Saturday afternoons at 2.00pm. Tickets are £3.50. Go to www.wellingboroughmuseum.co.uk for more information.
The first Dig of 2015 was postponed because of the bad weather. Keep an eye on the CALENDAR for a new date.
HiFARS are conducting research into the water sources and courses of Higham Ferrers, in particular the Saffron moat ‘cup-and-saucer’, the Castle Field moat, the wells in Chichele College, the stream along Kings Meadow Lane and the River Nene. At some point in the Spring, when the conditions are optimum (a sunny period after several days of rain), an ecologically-sound dye will be used and the results recorded and studied. The call will go out to HiFARS volunteers to help with the research – recording the appearance and flow of the dye at locations around the town. If you have a particular interest in this project please go to CONTACT and let the committee know. See also the CALENDAR as there will be a Walk and Talk on the evening of Thursday 23rd April.
HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, gave an interim report on her research into 19 College Street – A Duchy Cottage on the evening of Thursday 26th March at the Sports pavilion in Higham Ferrers Recreation Ground. The house has an impressive Georgian frontage, but given the number of older buildings in the town perhaps an earlier origin can be traced through the architectural clues.
Initially intrigued by television news in February 2013 stating that seemingly Richard III had been discovered and showing the earlier 2012 uncovering of the curved spine skeleton beneath the R (denoting reserved) section of Leicester Social Services car park, I awaited further news.
When the facial reconstruction arrived in Northampton, November 2013, I went to the Guildhall Road Museum and stood staring somewhat disconcerted at the (then accepted) brown eyes and very dark hair … much relieved by results of later DNA tests indicating blue eyes and much lighter hair colour. Television-related continued forensic and DNA searches in August 2014 led to the discovery of a living male with almost identical curvature of the spine, scoliosis, which sideways curve deleted the hunchback image.
Leicester Cathedral was eventually chosen as the reinterment site and on Sunday 22nd March I watched the coverage of the progress of the cortege through relevant villages and pleased to see that, of the three little boxes of soil to be cast in the tomb, one was indeed from the birthplace of Richard III – Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire. The progress through Leicester watched by 28,000 lining the streets had been meticulously planned and spectacularly executed. I decided to play my part and go to view the coffin.
Having bought my £12 return ticket, on Wednesday 25th March I boarded the 08.15am train at Wellingborough and alighted 08.46am at Leicester Station from where it was only a short walk to join the Cathedral queue, at which point a placard was raised stating ‘one hour wait’. It was all so comfortable – slowly but continuously moving towards the Cathedral entrance with quiet, relaxed conversations, Richard III Society members offering tea/coffee and several tables selling the individual white roses which could be placed by the statue, beside the path or given to an attendant so they could be strewn around the coffin area.
Moving inside the Cathedral, there were glimpses of the oak coffin covered by a black velvet beautifully embroidered pall, then, on the approach to the coffin, movement slowed, each person then stopped and, within perhaps just two seconds, turned, bowed head, then turned again to continue walking onwards to the exit door. For me that was exactly 11.00am.
Fewer than 100 paces from where Richard III now lies is the trench from which he was recovered and where he had lain for over 500 years. It is on view as part of the new Visitor Heritage Centre which has been erected on the site of the medieval friary of Greyfriars. Within it are displays of all relevant to the life of Richard III, information on and explanation of tests, pictures of places and events and a large screen video drama of some of his life.
Great crowding and continuous forward movement was again necessary for everyone to have some chance of looking so I shall return on a quiet day to study all that then, in the Cathedral I shall take ‘time to stand and stare’ and pay my silent, solitary, last respects to King Richard III.
A special HiFARS report by Nola Parry
Wednesday 25th March at 8.30pm on BBC 4
New series hosted by Griff Rhys Jones where each episode is recorded at a different museum from around the country. Panellists such as Janina Ramirez and Dan Cruickshank will uncover the stories behind various artefacts.
Paul Blinkhorn’s Monday night talks on the Anglo Saxons have come to an end. Jon Small, archaeologist and pub historian, will be taking over the 8.30pm slot on Monday nights at The Olde England Pub, 199 Kettering Road, Northampton, with talks about the history of Northampton – the castle, St Peter’s, the pubs, the characters and the subterranean tunnels. Book at the bar, £3 a session. Go to the Olde England facebook page for more information.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Monday 9th March. Among the issues discussed were the County Council cuts and how they affect the archives of Northamptonshire and the HiFARS calendar of events for 2015.
Sunday 8th March at 7.00pm on BBC2
This series has been covering the work of the engineers who are building ten new stations as part of the Crossrail train line across London. The third episode includes the excavation of the skeletons from London’s plague pits. Jay Carver, lead archaeologist at the Museum of London, describes the forensic analysis of the bones and the impact of the Black Death on 14th century London.
The Award-winning Oundle Museum opened again for the 2015 season on Saturday 7th March. Admission is FREE, donations are welcome. The Courthouse, Mill Road, Oundle PE8 4BW. The permanent exhibition includes archaeological finds from excavations in the East Northants area. Go to www.oundlemuseum.org.uk for more information.
The Winter General Meeting of the Council for British Archaeology, entitled Community Archaeology – where now?, took place on Monday 2nd March at the British Academy in London. Director Mike Heyworth opened the meeting with an overview of the Workplace Learning for Community Archaeologists project, which has been running for the last four years. The CBA, supported by funding from the HLF, EH, Cadw and the Headley Trust, provided 51 year-long placements for people with existing experience in archaeology, who wished to develop their skills to work effectively in the community. Case studies of the training placements were enthusiastically described by trainees and supervisors alike, and the meeting concluded with a panel discussion on the future of community archaeology. Go to www.archaeologyuk.org for more information about the CBA.
On Thursday 19th February, Alan Pack gave an interesting talk to Wellingborough Civic Society at Wellingborough Museum about the history of the Irthlingborough Iron Ore Mine, from 1914 to its closure in 1965. Go to www.apack1.co.uk for more information.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Monday 9th February. The programme of HiFARS events for 2015 was discussed – Summer evening trips to photograph the historical earthworks in the local landscape, dates for Dig-for-a-Day, the next members meeting and Archaeology Allsorts, part of the CBA Festival of Archaeology – consult the CALENDAR for forthcoming dates. The work of the Council for British Archaeology was also discussed as they have asked archaeology societies for a donation in addition to the annual subscription fee in response to government funding cuts.
Saturday 7th February at 5.15pm on BBC2. A special edition of the children’s comedy starring Ben Miller explaining why the 800-year-old charter is still relevant today.
On Tuesday 3rd February at 9.00pm on BBC4 historian Dan Snow explores the history of Britain’s best-known shipwreck, the Mary Rose, and looks at the decades of work that have gone into her recovery and restoration.
Dr Alice Roberts hosts a new series beginning on Tuesday 3rd February at 8.00pm on BBC 4. She will be visiting archaelogical digs around the country. Episode 1 includes Must Farm on the River Nene – the Bronze Age fishing industry, the swords and spears found in the river and the long boats now being preserved at Flag Fen.
A new series begins on Monday 2nd February on Channel 5 at 10.00pm. Twenty volunteers will be living under Stone Age conditions for 2 months in a unique social experiment. They must fend for themselves – hunting, flint knapping, tool-making, foraging – in a remote Bulgarian forest, similar to the terrain of our Mesolithic ancestors. Archaeologist and survival expert Klint Janulis is onboard for the first 2 days.
Monday 26th January at 9.00pm on BBC2
Historian David Starkey looks at the origin of the Magna Carta, the document that has underpinned British liberties since it was created in 1215 to check the abuses of King John. Repeated at 11.20pm Wednesday 28th January and available on iPlayer.
The first committee meeting of 2015 was held on Monday 12th January. Amongst the items discussed was the update of the HiFARS Finds Storage and possible speakers for future talks. If any member has anything to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT and email a message. The committee will also be looking for volunteers to help with the ‘Moat Waterflow Project’ (more details will follow in a few weeks). The first HiFARS Members Meeting of 2015 will be held this month. HiFARS Finds Officer, Mark Patenall will be talking about Flint: An Effective Tool, go to CALENDAR for details.
Tuesday 23rd December at 8.00pm on ITV
Views of Roman Britain from a helicopter, and additional detail from archaeologists on the ground.
Paul Blinkhorn gave a great talk on the relationship between Archaeology and the Media on Sunday 7th December for the HiFARS Christmas Lecture 2014 in the Bede House, St Mary’s Churchyard. The talk concluded with mince pies, refreshments and an informal members meeting. There was a great turn out and thanks to everyone who supported this event.
Thursday 4th December at 9.00pm on BBC4
Historian Sam Willis takes a revealing trip through the centuries to see how castles were built and how they tie into the past, the power politics and everyday life.
Tickets are still available from Sidey Design, Higham Market Square for the HiFARS Christmas Lecture An Afternoon with Paul Blinkhorn on Sunday 7th December at 2.00pm. See CALENDAR for more information.
Sunday 30th November 8.00pm on Channel 4
Secret History series documentary which sheds light on The Great Wall using the first nationwide survey and state-of-the-art drones.
Thursday 27th November at 9.00pm Channel 5
In a new series, medieval historian Dan Jones tells the stories of four key monarchs from the Plantagenet dynasty, starting with Henry II.
There was a HiFARS committee meeting on the evening of Monday 24th November. The new committee members Nola Parry, Steve Morris and Finds Officer Mark Patenall were welcomed. The arrangements for the Christmas Lecture by Paul Blinkhorn were discussed along with more excavation at Chester Farm, Arkey Angel, the Chichele College gardens and an overhaul of the finds archive.
Paul Blinkhorn is repeating his series of talks on the archaeology of Anglo Saxon and Viking England at The Olde England pub (199 Kettering Road, Northampton) on Monday nights at 8.30pm. They start on 24th November, tickets are £3 each and available from the pub in the week before the talk. Go to www.theoldeengland.com and their facebook page for more information.
Arky Angel is assembled and just one of 60 angels in St Mary’s Church, Higham Ferrers. The Angel Festival starts today (Friday 21st) at noon and ends on Sunday at 5.00pm. The Sparkle event is tomorrow (Saturday 22nd) – fun fair, continental market, Santa’s grotto, refreshments – and the Christmas lights will be switched on at 5.00pm.
Tuesday 18th November BBC 2 at 9.00pm
TV historians Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold are joining an archaeological experiment to build a castle in Burgundy with tools and materials that were only available in the 13th century.
Wellingborough Museum are extending the season for the popular Trench Experience. Saturdays 2.00–3.30pm, £3.50, check their Facebook page for more information.
An evening of discussion was held at Northampton Museum & Art Gallery on Thursday 13th November. A full report to follow.
The Council for British Archaeology AGM was held on Monday 10th November at the British Academy, London. CBA Chair Dr Jane Grenville and Director Dr Mike Heyworth reviewed 2014 and the aims of the Council for 2015. The Marsh Awards for Community Archaeology were awarded by Peter Johnson and President Dan Snow. After a reception Professor Graeme Barker spoke about his career as A British Archaeologist Abroad.
The Annual General Meeting of the Northamptonshire Archaeology Society was held on Thursday November 6th at The Humfrey Rooms, Castilian Terrace, Northampton. After the AGM, Dr John Williams gave a thought-provoking lecture entitled Reflections on Medieval Northampton. He described his research into the cloth trade of Northampton in the 13th century. Documentary evidence shows that French merchants set up businesses in Northampton, exporting wool and cloth, and importing woad, for dyeing. Towards the end of the century, cloth production in Northampton had declined at a much greater rate than in other cloth-producing towns. Dr Williams suggested several possible reasons for this, including failing fortunes due to financial pressure from the Crown and the Church, and the decline of the Great English Fairs. Go to www.northants-archaeology.org.uk for more information about the NAS.
The HiFARS 2014 AGM Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday 25th October at the Sports Pavilion in Higham Ferrers Recreation Ground. The reports from the Secretary, Chairman and Treasurer were read, last years minutes were accepted and the existing committee were re-elected. There was a talk by Chair, Olwen Mayes, about her recent trip to France and replica samian pottery-making which included a demonstration. Mark Patenall also brought a selection of finds for discussion. A big thank-you to all members who attended, and to the members who volunteered to join the committee for 2015, details to follow after the next committee meeting.
Archaeologist Ben Robinson explores Britain’s most iconic historical monuments from the sky. Go to ITV on Friday 17th October at 8.00pm for the first episode which features Tintagel Castle and the King Arthur connection.
The HiFARS 2014 Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday 25th October at 7.00pm in the Sports Pavilion in the Recreation Ground, Vine Hill Drive, Higham Ferrers. There will be a review of the year and an update on all the ongoing HiFARS projects. Its a great opportunity for new members to meet the other members and the committee. There will be a raffle and the chance to renew your membership for 2015 at a discounted rate and to buy your tickets for the HiFARS Christmas Lecture An Afternoon with Paul Blinkhorn.
The 2014 HiFARS Christmas Lecture has been announced, tickets on sale now. The speaker is Paul Blinkhorn and the date is Sunday 7th December at 2.00pm. See the posters and CALENDAR for more information.
The Tourist Information Centre in Higham Ferrers Library was launched on the morning of Saturday 27th September 2014. Library staff will be able to help with all Tourism enquiries including information about the new Guided Town Tours.
The postponed HiFARS committee meeting was held on the evening of Wednesday 24th September 2014. The arrangements for Higham Ferrers Heritage Weekend, this years AGM and the HiFARS Christmas Lecture were amongst the topics discussed. If any member has anything to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT and send an email.
Northamptonshire Archaeological Society celebrated their 40th anniversary over the weekend of 20th and 21st September with a demonstration of Ancient Crafts at Sywell Country Park. Graham Taylor showed how prehistoric pots were made and decorated with combs, scrapers and twisted bark cord, while James Dilley demonstrated the art of flint knapping. Children dressed up and took part in sessions of Roman military drill, or turned grain into flour, using a stone quern. Paul and Alex Thompson demonstrated Medieval leathercraft and bone-carving, and Michael Brown, the Historic Gardener entertained children and adults with his description of Medieval plants and their uses.
Several HiFARS members took part in an excavation at Chester Farm, between Thursday 11th and 13th September, under the supervision of archaeologist Ian Meadows. This was a continuation of the previous dig of the small late Roman cemetery, found earlier in the year. Members were able to excavate skeletons alongside professional archaeologists, which was a very exciting and rewarding experience. On Saturday 13th, the site was open to the public as part of the 20th Heritage Open Days Festival, supported by English Heritage. As the development of Chester Farm progresses, there may be further opportunities for HiFARS members to volunteer for archaeological work.
There’s an opportunity for HiFARS members to get some practical digging experience at Chester Farm from Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th September 2014. HiFARS members will have received an email, if you’re interested, book a place with the Chairman and more details will be forwarded to you.
A small team of HiFARS members led by Project Leader Steve Morris had a few hours of digging at the Dig-for-a-Day site in Higham Ferrers on Saturday 23rd August. Work was focussed on the original trench, as well as general tidying up of the site. Go to INFORMATION for details on the Dig-for-a-Day project. More Dig-Days will be arranged before the end of Summer, check the CALENDAR for details.
The archaeological excavation of the Project Angel site in Northampton has been ongoing since January 2014. There were open days on Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th August 2014 for the archaeologists to share their findings. The team have confirmed the survival of archaeological remains of Fetter Street and St Johns frontages, as well as a cluster of three pits which produced a small amount of late Anglo Saxon pottery and a Saxon carved bone dress pin. Amongst the earliest features found were a stone-built oven and several medieval wells. Go to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/en/Pages/HomePage.aspx for more information.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Monday 4th August 2014. If any member has anything to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT and send an email.
Metal detectorists Jacqui and Martin with Julie, and Steve Pooley and his amazing neolithic axe.
This years HiFARS event for the CBA Festival of Archaeology was held on Sunday 13th July in the Rangers Cabin at Stanwick Lakes in Northamptonshire. Julie Cassidy, Finds Liaison Officer for Northants, was there to identify the finds brought in and there were lots of activities for the children.
Alexander, Belle, Tommy, Thomas and Barney – washing pots and designing beakers.
(Photos: Mark and Joanne Jones)
Higham Ferrers held a Medieval Day on Saturday 12th July 2014. The weather was glorious and a good time was had by all. There was a medieval encampment in the Castle Fields, various characters about the town, knights on horseback, archery, birds of prey and entertainment. HiFARS had a stall and welcomed several new members. To see more pictures go to www.highamferrers-tc.gov.uk and follow the link to their Facebook page.
A HiFARS committee meeting was held on the evening of Tuesday 8th July 2014. The arrangements for the Medieval Day and Archaeology Allsorts at Stanwick Lakes were amongst the topics discussed. If any member has anything to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT and send an email.
Anyone interested in Northampton Castle should go to Northampton Museum and Art Gallery to see an exhibition organised by the Friends of Northampton Castle. It includes an informative film about the history of the site and the trial of Becket. Go to www.northampton.gov.uk/museums for more information.
Last week some lucky HiFARS members were assisting the archaeology students and lead archaeologist, Ian Meadows, at the Chester Farm excavation. The discovery of a small cemetery was completely unexpected. Twenty-five skeletons from the late Roman period have been found. The skeletons were found laying on their backs in large pits surrounded by stones. They were generally well preserved and will now be studied to find the cause of death. A full report will appear in the next HiFARS newsletter. See the story and picture on the front page of The Northants Herald & Post for Thursday 3rd July 2014.
Archaeologist Andy Chapman gave a talk In Search of Northampton Castle on the evening of Tuesday 10th June at Chichele College, Higham Ferrers. He covered all the excavations that have taken place at the site over the years and a full report will appear in the next newsletter.
Sarah Bridges at Chester Farm. (Photo: Pat Barber)
The Northamptonshire Archaeological Society organised a tour of the Chester Farm site on Saturday 7th June 2014. The 34 hectare site, now owned by Northants County Council, contains an impressive range of archaeological earthworks and buried remains, and is designated as a Scheduled Monument. A full report will appear in the next newsletter.
Historian Lesley Smith returned to St Mary’s Church, Higham Ferrers as Nell Gwynne on the evening of Friday 6th June. Look back at NEWS for 29th June 2012 to see Lesley’s Queen Elizabeth I.
A group of HiFARS members visited the new housing development site off Station Road in Higham Ferrers on the evening of Wednesday 28th May 2014. A full report will appear in the next HiFARS newsletter.
The fourth session of Archaeology for Children was held in Higham Ferrers Library on Tuesday 27th May 2014. The Bates Boxes of Roman finds were on display along with various Roman activities including the mosaic tray. Hannah White and her geometric design are on the left, Ben Coles and his house are on the right, and the mosaics in the middle belong to Sofia and Rachel.
Over the Bank Holiday weekend more work was carried out on Trench 2 at the Dig-for-a-Day excavation site. It had been raining a lot but the trenches on the site are free-draining and don’t get waterlogged. Some general maintenance of the site was carried out, its amazing how fast the grass grows at this time of year. On Monday 26th May the HiFARS store was also given a tidy-up. Go to INFORMATION for details about the Dig-for-a-Day project and the HiFARS collection of finds.
On Sunday 4th May 2014 the Dig-for-a-Day site was subjected to a bit of maintenance. If any member would like to help out with some tidying-up and excavation over the bank holiday weekend Saturday 24th – Monday 26th May please let the committee know by going to CONTACT. We’ll open up the site at times to suit.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Thursday 1st May 2014. If any member has anything to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT and send an email.
Sally Henshaw, Secretary of the East Midlands branch of the Richard III Society, gave a fascinating talk to members and friends of the Wellingborough Archaeological and Historical Society on the evening of Monday 28th April 2014. Following a detailed account of King Richards’ life and death, Sally described the amazing discovery of his bones in a council car park and the subsequent confirmation of his identity.
The Buckinghamshire Archaeological Review was held by the Council for British Archaeology South Midlands at the Cruck Barn, Milton Keynes Discovery Centre on Sunday 27th April 2014. There was a full day of talks and of particular interest to the HiFARS members who attended were the presentations by other amateur archaeology groups. Yvonne Edwards of the Chess Valley Archaeological and History Society spoke about Roman ditches and their recent excavations at Sarratt Bottom; and Martin Cuthbert of the Wing Heritage Group described the back garden test pitting of the town. Andy Chapman also gave an update on the Gayhurst barrow cemetery. Lunch was followed by a guided tour of Bradwell Abbey and the 14th century wall paintings of the Priory’s Grade I listed chapel.
HIDDEN DEPTHS Issue 16 is now available to all HiFARS members. If you haven’t had your copy in the next few days please go to CONTACT and let us know. It is full of interesting news with detailed reports on:
• The Battle of Waterloo film night.
• The CBA Winter AGM and Conference.
• The hole in the car park!
• Buildings Evidence for Higham Ferrers Castle.
• Heritage Days at Chichele College.
• The Three Oaks.
And lots more! along with details of forthcoming HiFARS events.
Higham Test Pit Project: Dig 1, the first day.
The first test pit of this exciting new HiFARS project was excavated over the weekend of Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of April. A full report will appear in the newsletter. And anyone wanting to volunteer their gardens should go to CONTACT.
Wednesday 9th April 2014 at 9.00pm on BBC 2
Ian Hislop delves into the legends of the ‘olden days’. The first episode covers King Arthur & Camelot and King Alfred.
Sunday 6th April 2014
Iceman Murder Mystery at 7.00pm on Channel 4 – Scientists perform an autopsy on the preserved corpse of a neolithic man found frozen in a glacier in 1991, hoping to learn more about life 5,000 years ago. Return of the Black Death: Secret History at 8.00pm on Channel 4 – Experts investigate the deadly bubonic plague of the 14th century.
The Spring Conference of the East Midlands branch of the Council for British Archaeology, entitled Archaeology at the Fringe II, took place on Saturday 29th March 2014 at Melton Mowbray, and consisted of six interesting lectures. Firstly, Wendy Scott, Finds Liaison Officer for Leicestershire & Rutland, spoke about the origins of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, followed by Emma Turvey, who told about the conservation of the Must Farm Bronze Age boats, found close to Flag Fen, Peterborough. The third lecturer was Mike Heyworth, Director of the CBA, describing the role of the media in archaeology. After lunch, Mark Gillings talked about geographical information systems, and how they are used to interpret the landscape. James Spry and James Earley spoke about their postgraduate community archaeology placements, and Helen Parslow described the challenges of insufficient storage space for the vast amounts of existing archaeological archives. Go to www.archaeologyuk/cbaem .org.uk for more information about conferences and archaeology lectures in the East Midlands.
A HiFARS members meeting was held at the newly refurbished Sports Pavillion in Higham Ferrers Recreation Ground on the evening of Thursday 27th March. HiFARS Chairman, Olwen Mayes, announced a new project for community test pitting throughout Higham Ferrers over the next few years overseen by archaeologist Steve Morris. More details of this exciting new project will follow in the HiFARS newsletter and on the website.
Oundle Museum‘s new exhibition Cabinets of Curiosities is now open (until November 2014) with collections made by local people. The museum is also hosting a Great War exhibition with activities for young visitors. The Museum is in the Old Courthouse and open Saturday 11.00am–5.00pm and Sunday 2.00pm–5.00pm. A silver seal ring which was discovered at Barnwell now resides at the museum thanks to the help of Julie Cassidy, the County Finds Liaison Officer and the Friends of Oundle Museum. The thirteenth century ring is inscribed with the name Berengar, which refers to Sir Beringar Le Moyne who built Barnwell Castle. Go to www.oundlemuseum.org.uk for more information.
Andrew Graham-Dixon explores the Vikings: Life and Legend exhibition at the British Museum on BBC 2 at 8.30pm on Saturday 15th March.
The first Dig-for-a-Day of 2014 took place on 9th March, when two intrepid committee members tackled the vegetation that has sprung up in the trenches over the winter. After a morning of invigorating exercise, a small amount of progress had been made – Trench 1 had become visible again, and some more topsoil had been removed from Trench 2. A couple of pieces of clay tobacco pipe were found in Trench 2. If any member would like to join us in our training trenches, go to INFORMATION – Dig-for-a-Day.
A play entitled The Seven Lives of Henry Chichele was written by Richard Oberman to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the appointment of Chichele as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1414. The play was performed to a very high standard by members of the Higham Ferrers community on 7th and 8th March at the Ferrers School. Richard Oberman gave an excellent performance as Chichele at the age of 81, and narrated the play through six scenes, each one portraying a different era of Chicheles’ life.
Colworth Archaeology Group are fieldwalking in nearby Bedfordshire fields on Saturday mornings starting at 9.30am. If any HiFARS members would like to take part go to CONTCT and email for information.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Thursday 6th March 2014. If any member has anything to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT and send an email.
Paul Blinkhorn, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval pottery expert, has been giving a series of 12 lectures entitled An Introduction to the Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon and Viking England at The Olde England pub in Northampton. The Anglo-Saxon period began at the end of the Roman rule in AD410, and continued through the Viking raids from AD793 onwards, until the Norman Conquest in 1066. Paul described how archaeology can tell us so much about life in this period; his lectures covered such topics as religion, burials, trade, administration and power. Of particular interest was his reference to the important Anglo-Saxon administrative centre in Higham Ferrers. Taxes for the King were taken as farm produce, and the centre at Higham was used as a cattle enclosure and storehouses, for when the King visited the Royal Centre at Irthlingborough. For those who missed Paul’s lectures, he will be repeating them next winter and details will be available nearer the time on the Olde England Facebook page and on CALENDAR.
Sunday 2nd March 2014
Heavy rains have damaged a temple and caused a stretch of wall to crumble at Pompeii, prompting claims that millions of euros from the EU being spent to save the archaeological site are being wasted. Emergency meetings are being held and other sites in historical Italy are under threat from torrential rains this Winter.
Sunday 2nd March 2014 at 8.00pm on Channel 4
In Britain’s Bronze Age Mummies Tony Robinson follows an archaeological dig on a burial ground in Northumberland.
The Chichele Lecture and Dinner was held on the evening of Saturday 1st March 2014 at the Bede House, Higham Ferrers. The lecture was given by Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, former Bishop of Europe.
Dan Snow, Beatrice de Cardi, Michael Wood and
CBA Director Dr Mike Heyworth © Adam Stanford.
Historian and broadcaster Michael Wood was the speaker at the Beatrice de Cardi Lecture at the British Academy, London, on the evening of Monday 24th February. He talked with much enthusiasm about community archaeology and the Kibworth Project. CBA President Dan Snow was there, along with Francis Pryor who spoke at the reception on ‘Why archaeology matters’ and Beatrice de Cardi who celebrates her 100th birthday this year.
HiFARS chairman Olwen Mayes is busy fighting the spending cuts that are being proposed by Northampton County Council in regards to the Archives and Heritage Services. She attended, and made a speech at, the Council Budget Meeting on Thursday 20th February, and there will be more information in the next HiFARS newsletter.
Tony Robinson takes walks through the industrial landscape starting with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal on Saturday 8th February at 8.00pm on Channel 4.
Phil and Roy from the Irthlingborough History Society.
Historian Roy York from the Irthlingborough History Society gave an interesting talk at the Bede House in Higham Ferrers on the evening of Friday 31st January. The talk covered the early history of film and the story of The Battle of Waterloo, the ‘first British epic film’, directed by Charles Weston and filmed in Irthlingborough over 100 years ago. A twenty minute clip of the film was shown, along with a parody of the film made shortly after the original called The Adventures of Pimple. A full report of the evening appears in the HIFARS newsletter HIDDEN DEPTHS Issue 16.
Archaeologist Jago Cooper investigates the ancient civilisation on Easter Island and their sudden demise on Thursday 30th January BBC4 at 9.00pm.
The BBC starts its World War I centenary season with Britains’s Great War, a social history series presented by Jeremy Paxman on Monday 27th January on BBC 1 at 9.00pm.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Thursday 23rd January 2014. If any member has anything they would like to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT and send an email.
Mike Ingram, a military historian, lecturer and battlefield guide, gave a talk entitled Richard III and the Battle of Bosworth at Northampton Museum on Thursday 23rd January. After a brief outline of the family history of Richard III, Mike described the kings’ connections to Northamptonshire and his downfall at the Battle of Bosworth, and described how the true location of the battle was discovered in 2010. A four year archaeological project, led by the Battlefields Trust, revealed that the battle site was at Crown Hill, near Stoke Golding in Leicestershire, rather than at Ambion Hill, near Sutton Cheney, where the battle was previously thought to have been held. A large number of cannonballs and pieces of armour were found at Crown Hill, but the most important find was a gilded silver badge in the shape of a boar – King Richards’ personal emblem. Go to www.northampton.gov.uk/museums for more information about the free talks for the Overs 60s.
The HiFARS committee would like to wish all members and friends of HiFARS a very Happy New Year. Go to CALENDAR to see some of the great archaeological and history events already lined up for the Spring in 2014. Go to CONTACT if you know of similar events that might be of interest to HiFARS and we’ll include them in the list. And don’t miss the next HiFARS members talk on Friday 31st January – The Missing Footage of the Battle of Waterloo.
Olwen examines some of the pottery sherds donated by Deryck Rogers
The Carriage House Hotel in Higham Ferrers (many thanks to Pam) was the setting for the HiFARS Christmas meeting on Sunday 15th December. Chairman Olwen Mayes gave an overview of the year and members took the opportunity to renew their membership at the special discount rate. This offer will be repeated at the next HiFARS talk at the end of January, see CALENDAR for details. The HiFARS committee would like to wish all members and friends of HiFARS a very Happy Christmas.
Sunday 8th December 2013 at 8.00pm on Channel 4
When China’s Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974, it became one of the great wonders of the world, comprising 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots and 650 horses that had lain undiscovered for more than 2,000 years. Since that first dig, which only unearthed a fraction of the treasures, more recent research has turned up new information.
The third session of Archaeology for Children was held in Higham Ferrers Library on the morning of Saturday 7th December. Check the CALENDAR for more events like this in 2014.
Monday 2nd December 2013 at 9.00pm on BBC 4
Historian Dr Sam Willis reveals how shipwrecks have shaped our nation, through the truth about the Spanish Armada, the expansion of the navy and growth as a powerful trading empire.
Monday 2nd December 2013 at 10.00pm on Yesterday
The first stately home to be visited in a new series is Hampton Court the medieval palace of Henry VIII.
Sunday 1st December, Channel 4 at 8.00pm 1066: The Lost Battlefield
Sunday 1st December, More4 at 9.00pm The Madness of Bedlam
Tony Robinson and the team try and find the spot where the Battle of Hastings took place and why William conquered King Harold. Then they look at the site of the first psychiatric institution known as ‘Bedlam’ and its links with the medieval grave situated next to it.
On Tuesday 26th November, Andy Chapman, of Northamptonshire Archaeology, gave a talk to the Northampton Natural History Society entitled Northampton Castle – Past and Present. Andy detailed the history of the castle from its building in the late 11th century, to its ruination by the mid-16th century. In the late 19th century, the ruins were cleared and a new railway station was built on the site. Fortunately, historians and surveyors recorded the position of the ruins, and excavations in the 1960s investigated part of the site. In 2012-13, Northamptonshire Archaeology excavated part of the station forecourt, prior to the building of a new station, to determine whether any remains of the castle survived. The walls of a building were discovered with pottery dating to the 12th century, the first 100 years of the life of the castle. Beneath the remains of the castle was a late Saxon ditch, filled with animal bones and pottery. Go to www.nnhs.info/archa for more information about their talks and lectures in the coming year.
The mosaic from the Roman villa discovered at Stanwick during excavations in the 1980s, has been returned to the place where it was found. The mosaic, which measures 1.5m by 2.5m, has been cleaned and conserved, thanks to funding from Northamptonshire County Council, and is now on permanent display on the mezzanine floor of the Stanwick Lakes Visitor Centre. For a full report see the HiFARS newsletter HIDDEN DEPTHS Issue 16. And go to www.stanwicklakes.org.uk for more information.
On Friday 15th November Reg Harlow gave a very interesting talk on the History of Thurleigh Airfield to members and friends of Rushden and District History Society. From its beginnings as a US bomber base in the early 1940s, Thurleigh airfield became the UK’s premier flight test and wind tunnel research establishment from 1952 to 2001. Major achievements include the development of vertical take-off and automatic landing technologies. The southern part of the airfield is now used for the mass storage of new cars, the northern part has a racing circuit and the Thurleigh museum. One of the wind tunnels is now used for testing Formula 1 cars, the vertical wind tunnel is an indoor skydiving centre. Go to www.rdhs.org.uk and CALENDAR for more information about the society and future talks.
The Humfrey Rooms in Northampton was the venue for the Annual General Meeting of the Northamptonshire Archaeology Society on Thursday 14th November 2013. The AGM was followed by a fascinating talk by Sarah Tarlow of the University of Leicester, who has been involved in a five year research programme focusing on the fate of criminal corpses in Britain between 1752 and 1832. As those hung for murder were not allowed to be buried in consecrated ground, their bodies were much in demand by anatomists and phrenologists for their studies. Sarah has been investigating the various ways that the criminal corpse left its mark on society, not only in the cause of science and medicine, but also with regards to politics, folklore, morals and culture. Go to www.northants-archaeology.org.uk, www.nnhs.info/archa and CALENDAR for more information about future talks and events.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Monday 11th November 2013. If any member has anything they would like to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT and send an email.
Saturday 2nd November at 9.00pm on Channel 4
The Eagle is a film about a lost Roman legion in Britain and was recently recommended by history tutor John Cartwright as a good representation of the different fighting styles of the Roman army and the Iron Age people of Britain.
The 2013 HiFARS AGM was held at 7.30pm on Saturday 26th October in the Chantry Chapel, Higham Ferrers. It was followed by a fascinating talk by the archaeologist and landscape historian by Dr Stephen Upex at 8.oopm on the Roman fort excavation at Water Newton near Peterborough.
The second session of HiFARS Archaeology for Children was held at Higham Ferrers Library on the morning of Saturday 26th October 2013. There was story telling: Olwyn’s Story about the Romans and Saxons in Britain, and various hands-on activities for 8–11 year-olds. There will be a third session in December, and more in the new year, please check CALENDAR for dates and times.
Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Colworth Archaeology Society are about to embark on a new project – the ‘lost chapel of St James’ and Radwell Manor. There will hopefully be test pitting next Summer but initially some preliminary field-walking. If you’d like to take part go to CONTACT.
The Bates Boxes made a successful appearance at the Destination Day at Southend Junior School in Rushden on Tuesday 22nd October. Teachers welcomed the HiFARS Roman Finds as part of an afternoon of activities based on archaeology and mosaic making. Parents and children were free to handle the finds and ask questions. If other teachers would like to make use of the HiFARS archive please go to INFORMATION and CONTACT on this website.
Local Archaeology and its National Importance was the theme for a lecture by Dr Stephen Upex at Oundle on Friday 18th October. Stephen used landscape evidence to give a fascinating overview of the history of the area surrounding Oundle from Neolithic times to the present day. Don’t miss Stephen’s talk for the HiFARS AGM on Saturday 26th October 2013 at the Bede House, St Mary’s Churchyard, Higham Ferrers.
Thursdays at 8.30pm on ITV (starts on Thursday 17th October 2013)
Michael Buerk and Bettany Hughes look at the stories behind rarities like the Raglan Ring in the British Museum. There are 70,000 artefacts and curios unearthed annually across Great Britain. Go to www.itv.com for more information and itv player to watch again.
Tuesday 15th October 2013 on BBC4
Shaun Leane takes a look at some of the most breath-taking pieces in the hoard. Go to CALENDAR, www.bbc.co.uk and www.museumoflondon.org.uk for more information.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Monday 14th October 2013. If anyone has anything they’d like to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT and send an email.
Wellingborough Museum was the setting for a 1-day course on the Romans in Eastern England on Saturday 12th October. Tutor John Cartwright talked about the existing Iron Age legacy, the Roman invasions by Caesar and Claudius, the occupation, Romanisation and the Boudiccan Revolt. There will be a 5 week course on similar subjects at the Museum starting in January 2014, see www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/adultlearning and the CALENDAR for more information.
Wednesdays at 9.00pm on BBC4 (starts on Wednesday 9th October 2013)
Dr Helen Castor explores our ancestors’ rites of passage starting with childbirth. Go to www.bbc.co.uk for more information and iPlayer to watch again.
Sundays at 12.25pm on ITV (starts on Sunday 6th October 2013)
Michael Buerk discovers the ins and outs of running some of Britains’s most historic properties. Go to www.itv.com for more information and itv player to watch again.
Michael Brown, the Historic Gardener.
Saturday 28th September and Sunday 29th September 2013
The weather was great for the Heritage Weekend in Higham Ferrers. There was the Farmers Market, an organ recital in St Mary’s Church, the Patchwork & Quilting Exhibition in the Bede House and the Chichele Society had their 2013 Exhibition in the Chantry Chapel. The Gardening Volunteers and HiFARS were in Chichele College where there was an exhibition on the Cloister Garth, a childrens’ heritage trail and bulb planting in the garden. The Historic Gardener, Michael Brown, had an interesting display of plants, potions and implements and was playing the part of a medieval gardener and herbalist. Congratulations to Pat Barber, Joan Cooper, Charmaine Thompson, Carol Woodland and Dave Barber – the HiFARS raffle prize winners.
Oscar’s school project.
On Sunday 22nd September Trench 2 in the HIFARS Dig-for-a-Day project was made available to HiFARS member Oscar who had been set a school project by South End Junior School, Rushden on Archaeology. He’d chosen the option of ‘Digging’ and turned up to spend a couple of hours in the trench – digging, sieving, measuring and making notes. He had great fun and what a fantastic project for a 7-year-old. If any member or teacher would like to make use of the HiFARS resources – the Bates Boxes, trenches, books and archives – please go to CONTACT and get in touch.
The Colworth Archaeology Society are undertaking some fieldwalking in nearby Bedfordshire on Wednesday evenings. If any HiFARS members would like more information and to take part go to CONTACT on this website.
There are just 2 weeks to go before the end (29th September 2013) of the brilliant exhibition Life and Death – Pompeii and Herculaneum at the British Museum in London. If you go be sure to take in the Sutton Hoo Exhibition and The Birth of Archaeology in the Enlightenment Gallery. Go to the CALENDAR and the INFORMATION pages for details.
As reported in the Nene Valley News of 14th September 2013 the Northamptonshire Record Office is currently undertaking a large-scale project to improve accessibility of all the records held for the county, and is looking for volunteers to help. Skilled people are required to help catalogue and preserve all of the county’s historical assets. Training will be provided, go to www.northamptonsire.gov.uk/getinvolved for more information.
HiFARS members Pat Barber and Alan Smith
Chichele College was the setting for the second HiFARS Heritage Open Day on Saturday 7th September. The archive of resources was opened up to the public and HiFARS member Alan Smith had organised a display of local photographs and prints. Raffle prizes went to M. Allen, J. Illsuby, O. Mayes and P. Barber. Go to www.english-heritage.org.uk for more information about Heritage Open Days.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Tuesday 20th August. If anyone has anything they would like to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT and send an email.
Roy Friendship-Taylor at Piddington
A group of HiFARS members visited the Piddington Excavation and Museum on the afternoon of Saturday 17th August. The site features a Romano-British Villa complex and a late Iron Age settlement, and the Upper Nene Archaeological Society is now in its 35th year of excavation, under the direction of archaeologists Roy and Liz Friendship-Tayor. Members were taken on a tour of the site by Roy, who pointed out various features, including the wall of a Roman building that had fallen flat. This is a very unusual find and allowed the archaeologists to ascertain the height of the building, something that can usually only be guessed at. Recent finds from the site included a large part of a poppy-head beaker, a small 1st century brooch and the end of a bone needle. A visit to Piddington Museum followed the tour. The award-winning museum was opened in 2004 by Tony Robinson and displays a significant number of finds from the excavation, as well as a model of the villa. On entering the museum, a life-sized model of the owner of the villa, Tiberius Claudius Severus, gives an audio presentation on everyday life at the villa. Inside the display cabinets are a fascinating array of pots, tiles, brooches and bones, including a horse’s skull. The museum also has a library and study area, and a large archive store. Go to www.unas.org.uk for more information and see the CALENDAR for future HiFARS visits.
The first HiFARS Archaeology for Children event was held in Higham Ferrers Library on Saturday 10th August, more will follow later in the year, check CALENDAR for details.
Tuesday 6th August BBC4 at 9.00pm
The first of a three part series has historian Michael Wood explaining how Alfred the Great of Wessex, 9th-century monarch, thrashed the Vikings, championed literature and built-up England’s network of small towns.
Jennifer Sherrey, Heather Smith and Sarah Bridges at Chester Farm
(Photo: Herald & Post)
Northamptonshire County Council has secured lottery funding worth £4 million to turn Chester Farm (near Irchester) into a major education and visitor destination. There are plans for an archaeological resource centre, classroom and conference facilities and exhibition space for events and activities. The site has traces of Iron Age enclosures and ancient field systems, and below ground there is an extensive Roman settlement including a walled town with roads and buildings including a temple. There was also a medieval settlement there, the deserted village of Chester-by-the-Water and Chester Farm itself is a complex of buildings dating from the 17th century together with formal gardens, an orchard and parkland. The full story can be seen in the Herald & Post of 1st August 2013 and on their website www.northampton-news-hp.co.uk.
The Mystery of Rome’s X Tomb BBC2 9.00pm Sunday 28th July. Historian Michael Scott joins archaeologists and DNA experts to solve the mystery of 2,000 skeletons found 10 years ago in the catacombs beneath the streets of Rome. (Repeated at 11.20pm Monday 29th July on BBC2 and available for 7 days on i-player).
Caligula with Mary Beard BBC2 9.00pm Monday 29th July. Mary Beard explores the legend that is Caligula, notorious for incest and murder, the third emperor of the Roman Empire. (Repeated at 11.20pm Tuesday 30th July on BBC2 and available for 7 days on i-player).
Steve Morris and Marcus Browning
There was a Dig on Saturday 27th July, and it was very hot! Project leader Steve Morris was on hand for guidance and finds identification. A piece of roman pottery was found in the second trench – last week’s storms having washed it visible on the surface. Go to INFORMATION about the Dig-for-a-Day project and keep an eye on the CALENDAR for the date of the next dig.
Don’t forget to book your place on the HiFARS trip to Piddington Excavations and Museum on Saturday 17th August. The chairman needs to get final numbers before the end of this month. Go to CALENDAR for more information and the UNAS website.
The Roman Imperial Army
Hundreds of re-enactors and performers got together at Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire on the weekend of 20th/21st of July to tell the epic story of England’s past. Organised by English Heritage, spectators could witness the Battle of Tewkesbury, the Roman Imperial Army, The Battle of Hastings, Medieval jousting, Roundheads, Cavaliers, WWI Tommies and the Vikings! If you didn’t make it this year make sure you catch it next time.
The Roman traders in Chichele College Gardens
The HiFARS Archaeology Allsorts event, part of the CBA Festival of Archaeology 2013, was held on Saturday 13th July. Julie Cassidy, Northamptonshire Finds Liaison Officer was on hand for finds identification; Northamptonshire Archaeology and HiFARS had stands; and Roman traders had set up camp in the beautiful gardens of Chichele College, Higham Ferrers.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Monday 8th July. If anyone has anything they would like to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT.
The recent series Britain’s Secret Homes, a collaboration between ITV and English Heritage has come to an end but the 4 episodes are still available FREE on itv player. The series was presented by Michael Buerk and Bettany Hughes and you can go to www.english-heritage.org.uk for the full list and descriptions of the fifty properties.
There was a Dig on Saturday 6th July. The site is rather overgrown and a call goes out to all members who might like to undertake some general gardening and grass cutting to come along to the next Dig to help out with a bit of site maintenance. Go to CALENDAR for future Dig-for-a-Day dates.
There are special exhibitions throughout 2013 celebrating 100 years of protecting the past. Go to www.english-heritage.org.uk/caring/heritage-centenary for more information. The BBC are repeating episodes of the series Heritage! The Battle for Britain’s Past which originally ran in March. Episode 1: From Old Bones to Precious Stones charting the birth of the heritage movement has recently been repeated on BBC 4 so is available on i-player for 5 more days. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014fxzv for more information.
The Secret of Lincoln Jail
On Sunday 30th June at 8.00pm on Channel 4 Tony Robinson and the team investigate the horrors of Lincoln Castle’s early prisons ahead of a £19 million refurbishment.
Mick Aston, a former resident academic on Channel 4′s Time Team has died at the age of 66. Professor Aston lived in Somerset and taught at a number of UK universities, as well as appearing on 19 series of Time Team. His colleague Phil Harding said, “he had incredible knowledge and an effortless way of making archaeology accessible to people”. Francis Pryor said he was “a remarkable archaeologist who could really dig”. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23041568.
Wednesday 19th June at 9.00pm on Yesterday
Historian Ronald Hutton is touring London’s smaller museums. Tonight he visits Pollock’s Toy Museum, the Royal Society’s relics of great scientists, and some of the 80,000 ancient artefacts from Egypt and Sudan at University College London’s Petrie Museum.
There was an interesting talk on Chester Farm on the evening of Monday 17th June at St Mary’s Church, Higham Ferrers by Project Manager: Jennifer Sherrey and County Archivist: Sarah Bridges. We heard about the archaeology of the site, one of the most important in the county, and the future plans for turning the farm into a fantastic Heritage Centre. Many thanks to both speakers, and we’re looking forward to the Open Day at the site in September, keep an eye on the CALENDAR nearer the time. Go to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/en/councilservices/ community/archives/pages/chester-farm.aspx for more information about Chester Farm.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Monday 10th June. If anyone has anything they’d like to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT.
Log Boats at Flag Fen
Eight 4,000-year-old log boats discovered by archaeologists as they excavated a section of quarry at Must Farm near Peterborough are being conserved at Flag Fen. The project will take 2 years and visitors will be able to watch the conservators at work. Go to www.vivacity-peterborough.com for information about guided tours. And go to www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-22764318 and www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jun/04/eight-prehistoric-boats-bronze-age for the full story.
The Bates Boxes on display in Higham Ferrers Town Hall
The Northamptonshire Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Julie Cassidy, was on hand to identify and record lots of finds brought to the HiFARS Archaeology Roadshow at the Town Hall, Higham Ferrers on Saturday 25th May. There was a steady stream of visitors as it was also Market Day and there was a Garden Festival in Chichele College Garden. Go to www.finds.org.uk for more information about the Scheme. Julie will be visiting Higham again to identify more of your finds at the Archaeology Allsorts Day on Saturday 13th July 2013. Go to CALENDAR for more information.
The Northants Archaeology Society held their Spring meeting on Thursday 23rd May in the Humfrey Rooms in Castillian Terrace, Northampton. The speaker Marcus Roberts gave a fascinating talk on the Jewish heritage of Northampton. NAS hope to be hosting more talks throughout the year, go to www.northants-archaeology.org.uk and download the newsletters for more information.
BBC2′s Tudor Season examines one of the most complicated dynasties to have ruled England and starts on Thursday 23rd May 9.00pm with The Last Days of Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII’s Enforcer: The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell is on Friday 24th May 9.00pm; Henry VII – Winter King is on Thursday 30th May 9.00pm and Time Travellers Guide to Elizabethan England starts on Friday 31st May 9.00pm. Go to www.bbc.co.uk for more information.
If you want to see the facial reconstruction of Richard III’s head, it will be going on tour! Starting at the Leicester Guildhall May – June 2013, Bosworth Battlefield June–July 2013, Yorkshire Museum July–September 2013, Northampton Museum September–November 2013, the British Museum November 2013–February 2014 and finishing up at the Leicester Visitor Centre close to the car park grave site. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-22555317 and www.richardiii.net for more information.
The HiFARS committee met on the evening of Thursday 9th May. If anyone has anything they’d like to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT.
The Archaeology Season continues on BBC 4. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/collections to see a selection of BBC programmes dating back to the 1950s and 60s. They include Buried Treasure and Chronicle and the quiz show Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?
The fourth Dig of the year was held on the morning of Sunday 5th May. Dig-for-a-Day is open to HiFARS members only, check the CALENDAR for the next Dig date.
Another new archaeology series starts on Wednesday 1st May on BBC4 at 8.00pm. Archaeologist Julian Richards revisits some of the stories from Meet the Ancestors. He discovers how science, conservation and new finds have changed our understanding of entire eras of history. Go to www.bbc.co uk for more information about the BBC Four Archaeology Season.
A new series starts on Tuesday 30th April on BBC4 at 9.00pm. Dr Richard Miles explores the history of archaeological breakthroughs.
Saturday 20th April 2013
The Council for British Archaeology South Midlands division held their Spring Conference at Toddington Village Hall, Bedfordshire on Saturday 20th April. The keynote speaker was Carenza Lewis of Time Team fame who talked about test pitting in the community. Jo Barker, Mike Luke, Kathy Pilkington and Jeremy Oetgen from Albion Archaeology talked about their recent projects in Bedfordshire. Other speakers were Bob Zeepvat: A Saxon to Medieval settlement at Clapham; Loyd Wix of Colworth Science Park Archaeology Society; Evelyn Barker: La Grava; James Newboult: Recent excavations at Woburn and Bernard Jones from the Leighton Buzzard and District Archaeological and Historical Society.
Ben Robinson of English Heritage has made four episodes of The Flying Archaeologist – Stonehenge and the River Avon, Hadrian’s Wall, the Norfolk Broads and the Hoo Peninsula. They will be shown on BBC1 at 7.30pm on Friday 19th April and BBC4 at 8.30pm on Monday 29th April. Available on iplayer for 7 days. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tv/posts/The-Flying-Archaeologist-Revealing-lost-worlds for more information.
Thursday 18th April
A HiFARS committee meeting was held on Thursday 18th April. If anyone has anything to raise with the committee please go to CONTACT.
Saturday 13th April 2013
The Deadland Project continues in Bedfordshire with the Colworth Archaeology Society (see previous post 19th December 2012). Committee member Pat Barber was excited to find some Roman glass! A full report on the project appears in the HiFARS newsletter HIDDEN DEPTHS Issue 16.
Check out information online regarding the amazing finds from the excavation at Bloomberg Place in London. The dig has been hailed as ‘the Pompeii of the north’ for the 10,000 artefacts that have been found at the site in Bank revealing new details about life in London during Roman times. Hopefully an exhibition of the key finds will open when the building is finished in 2016.
Saturday 6th April 2013
The third Dig of the year was held on the morning of Saturday 6th April. Work began on the second trench with the removal of the turf. Check the CALENDAR for the next Dig date. Many thanks to Mervyn for the donation of the bench, we now have somewhere to sit down when we change our boots!
Monday 1st April 2013
Digging was available at Piddington for a week at Easter. Although it was very cold several members of the committee made the journey and had an enjoyable and informative day out on Monday 1st April. There will be more digging at Piddington in the Summer, check the CALENDAR for information nearer the time.
Cambridge dig unearths history from Bronze Age to World War II. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-21893150
Tuesday 19th March
HiFARS Chairman Olwen Mayes attended a meeting discussing mineral extraction and its impact on Northamptonshire.
Sunday 17th March 2013
HiFARS members enjoyed a fantastic guided tour of Kimbolton Castle, Cambridgeshire on Sunday 17th March. Huge thanks to Mr and Mrs Butler our excellent guides. For a full report see the newsletter, and for similar outings available to HiFARS members see the CALENDAR.
Northampton Railway Station: Preparations for Dig.
Latest news on the dig at Northampton Railway Station, the site of Northampton Castle. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-21755941
Monday 11th March 2013
HiFARS Committee Meeting was held on the evening of Monday 11th March. If there is anything you want to bring to the attention of the committee please email, see the CONTACT page.
Saturday 2nd March 2013
HiFARS chairman Olwen Mayes attended the Council for British Archaeology Winter General Meeting held in York on Saturday 2nd March. The theme was The Role of Societies in the 21st Century and a full report appears in the HiFARS newsletter HIDDEN DEPTHS Issue 16. Go to www.new.archaeologyuk.org for information about the CBA.
Sunday 24th February 2013
The second dig for 2013 was held on Sunday 24th February. Project manager Stephen Morris was in attendance and he kindly outlined the digging plan for 2013. For more information about the DIG-FOR-A-DAY project go to the INFORMATION page.
Monday 4th February 2013
A HiFARS committee meeting was held on Monday 4th February. If you have anything you want to bring to the attention of the committee please email. See CONTACT details on this website.
HIDDEN DEPTHS Issue 15 is now available to HiFARS members. If you haven’t had your copy please go to CONTACT and let us know. It is full of interesting news with detailed reports on:
• The Chichele College Cloister Garth watching brief.
• The members visit to the Roman Fort at Water Newton.
• The Council for Independent Archaeologists 2012 Autumn Conference.
• The Moat Clearance in the Castle Field.
• David Starkey’s address to the Supporters of the Westmorland Archive Appeal.
Saturday 2nd February 2013
The first Dig of 2013 was held on Saturday 2nd February. The site was tidied and prepared ready for the second trench. For more information about the DIG-FOR-A-DAY project go to the INFORMATION pages on this website.
Wednesday 23rd January 2013
A talk was given by HiFARS chairman Olwen Mayes in the Chantry Chapel, Higham Ferrers on the evening of Wednesday 23rd January. The talk covered her research into the Saffron Road Moat, known locally as the Cup-and-Saucer, for the new information board planned by Higham Ferrers Town Council.
The last series of Time Team is now showing on Channel 4 on Sunday afternoons. Go to www.channel4.com/programmes/time-team for more information. You can also watch old episodes again – Series 11 Episode 11 shows the Saxon skeleton in the garden in Raunds, Northamptonshire.
Excavation dig uncovers Middle Iron Age village.
A newspaper report about the dig in Barton Seagrave from the Evening Telegraph www.northantstelegraph.co.uk/news/local/excavation-dig-uncovers-middle-iron-age-village-1-4637798
3rd January 2013
Thieves who looted coins from an ancient Roman site in Northamptonshire were handed Britain’s first ASBO banning them from metal detecting. See www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2256651
20th December 2012
Landmark Ruling for Illegal Metal Detecting. See www.english-heritage.org.uk/about/news/heritagecrime
In December 2012 members of HiFARS joined Loyd Wix and the Colworth Archaeology Society for some fieldwalking and surveying in Bedfordshire as part of the Deadland Project. See the HiFARS newsletter for a full report and details of what was found. This is an ongoing project see the CALENDAR for further dates to take part in the project.
• Go to www.colworthpark.com/news/colworth-archaeological-discovery.html for a report of the BIG DIG which took place in Sharnbrook involving HiFARS members back in July 2011.
• Go to www.colworthpark.com/news/time-team-comes-to-colworth.html and www.colworthpark.com/news/time-team-visit-colworth-science-park.html for the story of the TIME TEAM visit in July 2008.
Sunday 9th December 2012
An excellent talk was held at the Bede House, Higham Ferrers by Malcolm Deacon on Sunday 9th December. Sir Christopher Hatton proved to be a fascinating subject, for a full report see the HiFARS newsletter. Any ideas for the Christmas Talk 2013 warmly welcomed, please contact the committee by email. Other talks and events are already lined up for 2013, please see the CALENDAR for more information and updates.
Sunday 25th November 2012
The last DIG-FOR-A-DAY in 2012 was held on Sunday 25th November. We’d had constant rain throughout the week leading up to the Sunday and as a result no digging actually took place. The site was assessed, it was quite waterlogged and fairly overgrown but will hopefully be easily cleared at the first dig in the new year which is scheduled for Saturday 2nd February 2013. Check the CALENDAR and INFORMATION for more details, open to members only.
Thursday 8th November 2012
The Northamptonshire Archaeology Society AGM was held in Northampton and was followed by a talk by Christopher Dyer on Why medieval peasants are important. See INFORMATION and www.northants-archaeology.org.uk.
Saturday 20th October 2012
The HiFARS AGM was held at the Chantry Chapel, St Mary’s Church in Higham Ferrers. There were reports from the Treasurer, Secretary and Chairman and the re-election of the Committee. Also a review of the year, an update on the Castle site and discussion of forthcoming events. It was followed by drinks and a raffle. Many thanks to all members who attended.
The Council for British Archaeology: South Midlands held their Autumn Conference and AGM at The Stanwick Lakes Visitor Centre, Northants. There was a fantastic range of talks given by Andy Chapman: From barrows to bypass – The Raunds Area Project revisited; Mark Holmes: A neolithic enclosure and mortuary pit at Banbury Lane, Northampton; Stuart Taylor: The Heritage Trail and the Stanwick Lakes roundhouse; Vicky Crosby: Iron Age and Roman Stanwick and Ian Meadows: Recent Work on the Roman small town of Irchester. Andy Chapmen finished off the day with a walking tour around the lakes following the Heritage Trail visiting the surviving round barrow, the reconstructed roundhouse and the sites of Stanwick Roman villa and West Cotton mediaeval village. See INFORMATION and www.stanwicklakes.org.uk/
Saturday 6th October
The Northamptonshire Archaeology Society held an Archaeology Day at Wellingborough Museum for local societies to promote their various activities. HiFARS had a stand and it was great to see HIFARS members supporting this event and the Wellingborough Museum. The event was also attended by Viking re-enactors and their living village. See INFORMATION and www.wellingboroughmuesum.co.uk
Saturday 29th September 2012
The Chichele Society held their Annual Exhibition at the Chantry Chapel, Higham Ferrers. Well attended and packed full of interesting local history. See www.chichelesociety.co.uk and INFORMATION.
Saturday 15th September 2012
The Council for Independent Archaeology held their Autumn Conference and AGM at Hackleton Village Hall, Northants. There was a great range of talks given by Tom Welsh: Techniques to locate possible archaeological features; Bob Randall: Resistivity surveys without a grant; Albert Daniels: East Farleigh – Maidstone Area Archaeological Group; Will Higgs: Marchers from the Tyne Gap; Alan D’Henin: Community Archaeology in Bidston; Tony Brookes: Free Open Source Software for graphical presentations and Roy Friendship-Taylor: The Piddington dig and Museum. There was also a demonstration of a drone and its use in aerial photography. See INFORMATION, www.independents.org.uk and www.unas.org.uk
Saturday 8th September 2012
A new event for 2012 was held in Chichele College, Higham Ferrers on Saturday 8th September. HiFARS opened up its archive of resources to the general public. Lots of history books and publications were available for reading but the star attraction was a display of local history photographs by HiFARS member Alan Smith.
Wednesday 22nd August 2012
A great evening visit to the Summer dig at the Roman Fort excavation at Water Newton. There was a tour of the site and an informative talk about Roman forts by Dr Stephen Upex. Stephen will be following this up with a talk in Higham Ferrers on October 26th 2013. See the CALENDAR for more details.
HIDDEN DEPTHS Issue 14
HiFARS members have you had your newsletter? Please get in touch if you haven’t. This issue includes:
• The Medieval casket key found in Higham Ferrers
• Dig Diary update
• Flag Fen Lives
• Saving the Westmorland Archive
• The Big Dig in Sharnbrook
winning ticket blue 007
James and Rachel please get in touch your raffle prize awaits!
Saturday 21st July 2012
A Day of Archaeology at Chichele College, Higham Ferrers including finds identification, pot washing and guided tours of the Castle site by Chairman Olwen Mayes.
Friday 29th June 2012
Higham Ferrers Tourism organised a great evening of entertainment at St Mary’s Church, Higham Ferrers. Lesley Smith, curator of Tutbury Castle, gave a fantastic insight into the life of Elizabeth I. See www.tutburycastle.com for details about Lesley and www.highamferrerstourism.org.uk for their calendar of events for the year.
Saturday 2nd June 2012
A Garden Party was held at Chichele College, Higham Ferrers to celebrate the official opening of the Cloister Garth by the Bishop of Peterborough. See highamferrerstourism.org.uk and www.english-heritage.org.uk for more information about the College and CALENDAR for details of the many events held in the College and the Garden.