Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group
Registered Charity No.294989
NEWSLETTER - SEPTEMBER 2003
ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS were due in January, and most members paid promptly - thank you. For those who put it off, a final chance: contact the Treasurer as soon as possible. The Summer Journal will only be sent to paid-up members.
THE SUMMER JOURNAL is almost complete, but has been delayed by problems with the Editor's computer printer. These have been overcome at least temporarily, and the Journal should be ready for distribution during September. This Newsletter is being despatched separately a week or two in advance to local members and those active at our Beckley site, but for those further away it is being held back to save postage costs.
EXCAVATIONS AT GLOSSAMS PLACE, BECKLEY: will resume from Saturday 13 September to Sunday 21 September. All those who have taken part in recent years will find enclosed with this Newsletter the usual notice and booking form; anyone else who would like to join in should contact Mike Greenhalgh. If you wish to take part actively, please return the form to Mike as soon as possible, to enable numbers to be assessed for each day and lifts arranged.
The portable toilet hired during May has been booked again. Anyone not wishing to dig is also welcome to come along and watch; the grid reference is TQ854215. There is a padlocked metal gate into Forestry Commission woodland which is open to pedestrians at all times. We open the gate for cars between 0945 and 10.00 each morning, otherwise there is a ten-minute walk to the site, marked by HAARG signs at junctions - keep straight ahead, ignoring turnings to right and left.
We are holding another open day on the final Saturday, 20 September, to which the public will be invited including our friends from the local history societies in Northiam, Beckley and Rye. On this day the gates will be open and manned between 10.0am and 4.0pm.
During May we enjoyed a successful nine days on site, with more than thirty members taking part on one or more days and a further ten members and visitors looking in. Casper Johnson brought his Sussex University open course class for a day's practical experience - several of them were already familiar with the site, which made it easier. On the final Saturday the Sussex branch of the Young Archaeologists Club were brought along by Martin Brown, Pauline Phillips and Gary Bishop, and after a guided tour of the site five or six youngsters and a group of interested parents assisted in setting up and using the Total Station survey equipment. They did not seem to be deterred by the rain which fell heavily at the time - the only significant wet spell of the week - and we hope to meet them all again some time.
During the week we extended trench 2 further westward and located the SW corner of the manor house. Outside this, several massive foundation stones look as if they were intended to carry the weight of a feature such as an exterior staircase or tower, and alongside was a buttress, not quite square to the wall. This contained a garderobe chute like that at the other end of the house, but this time with a drainage channel lined by squared sandstone blocks, cleverly contrived so that a trickle of water from a small spring somewhere north of the building flowed through to flush it, through a clay gully, into the moat - just downstream of the household water supply from the spring. A scatter of finds here included slate, pottery, an iron ring, bones, pieces of cream coloured brick and glazed tiles. All this was cleaned, drawn and photographed but there is still work to be done in this sector.
Work in the original trench was completed and drawings made; the front buttresses in trench 3 were not further explored. A test pit on the south slope where surface finds of pottery had been made revealed only natural clay, but two new trenches (4 and 5) some way forward of the house in areas of high resistivity were begun and work here will continue. There is also the possibility of a trial trench across the western ditch or moat, at a point suggested by the survey, to see how much this has silted up and find the original profile.
THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF HAARG has been provisionally arranged for Wednesday 25 February 2004, again at Clive Vale Congregational Church. Full details will be circulated with the January Newsletter, but please keep this date free. This will be the 30th anniversary of our first AGM in 1974, some 21 months after HAARG was formed. As Chairman I would like to hear from any other members who were present in the Library Extension Hall that evening, when Anne Scott was elected Treasurer and Pam Haines, a founder member, was on the Committee. I remember a debate on the new constitution, and the subscription was fixed at £1.
WEEKLY INFORMAL MEETINGS OF HAARG MEMBERS are held on Wednesday mornings from 10.30 to 12.00 at 61 All Saints Street, Hastings. On the first Wednesday in the month the room is also open in the evening from 7.0pm to 9.0pm.
THERE WILL BE NO MEETING ON WED. 17 SEPTEMBER as most members will be at the Beckley site that day. Why not pay us a visit there instead?
SUMMER WALKS AND VISITS BY CAR: Thanks to committee member John Stafford for leading a highly successful walk on 1 June in Barnes Wood, Vinehall, one of the many Forestry Commission sites under his charge. Penetrating deep into areas where ordinary walkers would not reach, we recorded numerous pits, most of which are believed to have provided iron ore for the important nearby Roman production site at Footlands. The threatening thunder storm just held off until we finished.
The two planned visits by car were received less enthusiastically, and the trip to Cissbury and Chanctonbury was cancelled as only three names were on the list. However on 17 August six members enjoyed an all day visit to Lullingstone Roman Villa and nearby Eynsford Castle. Afterwards we walked along to see the impressive Tudor gatehouse of Lullingstone Castle, and were persuaded by the owner Guy Hart-Dyke to pay a negotiated lump sum and visit the church and house; we also found the ice pit in the woods. Thanks to Lynn and Mike for careful driving on a hot day.
It may be possible to arrange something similar next summer, but we shall have to consider whether the planning involved can be justified in view of poor support.
BEATRICE CLOVER, a member known to many, has written a very readable booklet entitled "Loving the Fishing", recording interviews with the working wives of Hastings fishermen which formed the subject of her MA at Sussex University after retirement. Published by Old Hastings Preservation Society, profits go to the Fishermen's Museum where copies can be obtained price £3.50.
OTHER RECENT LOCAL BOOKS BY HAARG MEMBERS which can be recommended as well worth reading, available from selected shops, are:
"Those were the days" - interviews with residents of Old Hastings House including our Secretary's granny! - edited by Richard Pollard and published by Hastings Local History Group; and
"An Independent Chapel - the story of St. Lukes in Silverhill" by Alan Buckle.
UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX Centre for Continuing Education: local courses on offer at Hastings College include - The prehistory of Southern Britain, tutor Chris Butler, on Mondays commencing 22 September (we understand that several HAARG members have already enrolled); The Archaeology of Art, tutor Casper Johnson, Wednesdays from 24 Sept., and Drawing Archaeological Finds, tutor Lys Drewett - also on Wednesdays. More details are available from our club room.
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