Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group
Registered Charity No.294989
NEWSLETTER - JANUARY 2006
HAARG JOURNAL : the enclosed double number completes the issue under the 2005 subscription. It had been hoped to produce a Summer issue last August, but the events which overtook HAARG earlier last year and the resultant heavy workload on remaining officers - as detailed in the accompanying Annual Reports - meant that very few contributions and reports were received. Additionally your Editor took time off to write a book "Hastings Tramways Centenary 1905-2005"; call it Industrial Archaeology if you wish!
It has only now been possible to produce a satisfactory edition, with more than the usual number of pages, which has been designated double number 19 and 20. We hope to resume normal service with Summer and Winter issues for 2006, and needless to say, offers of articles or brief reports are urgently sought.
ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE NOW DUE , and a renewal form is enclosed which please return to Kevin Cornwell as soon as possible. For the fifth successive year there is no increase in subscription: £8 for ordinary membership, £9 for one household or family receiving a single copy of each publication. For those who are retired, unwaged or full-time students, the individual rate is reduced to £7.
THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF HAARG will be on Wednesday 22 February , at 7.30pm in the same place as the past few years: Clive Vale United Reformed Church, Edwin Road, Hastings. Anyone needing a location plan should contact the Chairman. A copy of the Agenda is enclosed for all members, together with the Annual Reports and accounts and the Minutes of last year's meeting. Please bring these with you if attending
SPEAKER AFTER THE FORMAL BUSINESS will be Dr. Andrew Woodcock , ESCC County Archaeologist, who has announced his retirement next October after 25 years in post; his topic will be "Reminiscences" of those times. Andrew is well known to all those who have ever attended our dig at Glossams Place in Beckley Woods, and we hope all his old "trainees" and excavators will make an effort to come along for this final get-together. Dr. Woodcock has additionally been a good friend to our Committee which he regularly gives up his time to attend, and his advice has been greatly appreciated.
HASTINGS LOCAL HISTORY CENTRE : The Old Hastings Preservation Society have purchased new premises as their HQ and the long-planned Local History Centre. HAARG and Hastings Local History Group have been invited to join in the project, and your Committee has agreed in principle to earmark a substantial percentage of our reserves towards the refurbishment. We now await details of the licence which they propose to offer us for use of the building for storage and meetings, and final agreement is likely to be completed soon. We hope we may be able to start using the facilities later this year.
The building at 21 Courthouse Street is a former warehouse, with narrow frontage but opening out to a large two-storey building. Working parties are currently carrying out voluntary work on Thursdays and anyone with time and abilities to offer is asked to contact Dennis Collins - Hastings 447643.
It is planned to hold Jumble and other fund-raising sales at regular intervals in the new room; the first took place recently and £308 was taken towards the project. Saturday 18 February will be a book sale, and after that the last Saturday in the month will see a fund-raising initiative. Donations of suitable items would be welcomed and should be brought to the room by arrangement with Anne Scott (427718).
Meanwhile we are grateful to OHPS for the continued use of their temporary office upstairs at the Fishermen's Museum for our meetings every Wednesday morning, to which all are welcomed for coffee and chat - sometimes we even talk about archaeology as well!
THE MIKE GREENHALGH MEMORIAL FUND : The treasurer's report shows that a sum of over £1000 is held in our bank account pending decisions on how best to apply it to a worth-while project. Your Committee has proposed that we use the funds in some way for permanent fittings and display cabinets within the History Centre, and further details should be known soon. It will be possible at the end of the current tax year in April to reclaim Gift Aid on a large proportion of the total, as most was donated by members who have already completed forms of agreement on any donations including the annual subscriptions.
JEAN DICKINSON : on behalf of all members we offer our deepest sympathy to Alan Dickinson and the children on the sad loss of his wife Jean ( neé Simmons). Jean has been a member since 1975 and was one of the earliest editors of our Newsletters, in the days before the Journal was started. She also served on the Committee at that time. Alan joined two years later and they met in 1982 on a dig at Ebony Chapel, near Tenterden.
BERT DOUCH : we also record with regret the death on 4 January of Bert Douch, while attending hospital as an out-patient. Bert was another long-standing member of HAARG and a keen metal detectorist, who uniquely was a partner in the discoveries of two separate coin hoards - Roman and Saxon. He will also be remembered as one of the last steam locomotive drivers in the area, work of which he often spoke with pride.
THE FOOTLANDS PROJECT - LYNN RUSSELL : I have tried very hard to get this project off the ground during 2005 but due to heavy workload I have been unable to fix training dates with David McOmish, Surveyor for English Heritage. Footlands is an enormous landscape which needs recording but it is in no danger at present and after discussion with HAARG Committee it has been decided to put it on hold. I personally have a heavy work and study commitment and with so few active HAARG members it is unrealistic to proceed at present.
FIELD-WORK OPPORTUNITIES: members will be aware that our long-term excavation at Beckley is reaching the final report stage, in view of Andrew Woodcock's impending retirement, and no further training digs are planned there. However Andrew needs to return at a date to be arranged during the Spring, to clear up some outstanding queries of interpretation, and a small number of members who are familiar with the site will be invited to assist.From time to time digs of a "rescue" nature do arise; during December and January a number of members were called in to excavate a trench in the back garden of Dickens Cottage, in advance of drainage work by contractors. A total of ten days - alternately cold or wet and muddy - were worked by a team varying between five and two members; Lynn Russell contacted all those on her e-mail list who have expressed interest in field-work, and will continue to do so as occasions arise, but anyone else who is likely to be available at short notice is invited to give her contact details - phone or e-mail.
BRIGHTON & HOVE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY CENTENARY CONFERENCE will take place on Saturday 11 March 2006, in the Chichester Theatre at the University of Sussex, Falmer, from 10.0am to 5.0pm. Fees are £25, with concessions for full-time students and those on low income. Leaflets are available from HAARG.
THE NATIONAL ICE AGE NETWORK : this is a new initiative, whose South East centre is based at Royal Holloway College, University of London. Their aims are to raise awareness and improve understanding of the many glacial periods, and the archaeology resulting from sand and gravel extraction - such as that near Lydd. Members of local societies are invited to support the project, and a leaflet and Newsletter are available from HAARG. Their website, where the Newsletter can be down-loaded, is www.iceage.org.uk or e-mail: email@example.com . They will also make available to HAARG members a series of "recognition sheets".
THE PORTABLE ANTIQUITIES SCHEME published its annual artefact report in November and a copy is awaited. It is now regarded as "the country's greatest force for engaging the public in archaeology" and 21 million hits were made to the website. The initial funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund ends in March, and from then the government "Dept. of Culture, Media & Sport" assumes full funding responsibility - under culture minister David Lammy, fortunately, rather than the sports minister!
RABBITS ARE NOT FOUND IN ROMAN CONTEXTS - according to the textbooks, as they were thought to have been introduced by the Normans for food and skins. Now bones have been found in an apparently sealed context in Norfolk in a Romano-British settlement, with evidence of butchery. Also David Rudling reported bones from Beddingham Roman Villa in Sussex. Simon Parfitt says both groups are from small rabbits of southern Mediterranean type, supporting Roman introduction.
MIDDLE IRON AGE BLOOMERY IN SUSSEX : Wealden Iron Research Group, to which HAARG is affiliated, report that charcoal from a site in Hartfield has been dated to a probable date of the beginning of the 5th. century BC, predating all known iron working in the Weald by possibly as much as 200 years.