Newsletter: October 2018

We’re living a little bit hand to mouth at the moment as regards lectures/speakers. Our next lectures are:

Tuesday 30th October 2018:  ‘Royston Cave and the Knights Templar, a talk by Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Curator, North Hertfordshire Museum. Letchworth Free Church hall, 8 pm.

Tuesday 20th November 2018: ‘Recent Archaeological Discoveries in Pirton’ by Gil Burleigh. Letchworth Free Church hall 8 pm.

Tuesday 4th December 2018: Members Xmas evening with buffet, wine and other refreshments, £3 per head. Mark Stevenson, Archaeology Advisor (South London), National Planning Group, Historic England, will give a talk on ‘The Archaeology of a World Heritage Site: Greenwich’. Letchworth Free Church hall, 8 pm.

In the New Year so far we have lined up James Fairbairn of Oxford Archaeology East to talk on his excavations this year in Verulamium and Alison Dickins of Cambridge University Archaeological unit to talk about archaeology in Cambridgeshire (dates to be arranged). Our members, Dan Phillips and Kris Lockyear, have given me the names of some other potential speakers, and Sarah Talks has offered a talk. I’m grateful to all. Watch this space!

Kris Lockyear writes:

Dear All,

some of you might be interested in the one day conference on archaeological geophysics being held at the Geological Society in Piccadilly on the 4th December.  See for details and a link.  I am presenting a poster on our work at Verulamium.  Cost is £25 concessions, £30 full with lunch and coffees.

Best wishes, Kris.

The article on ‘Ashwell’s Lost Roman Goddess’, published in Hertfordshire Life magazine in July is now available online (minus one or two photographs): 

Sacrilege! Leading archaeologist speaks out on centenary of Stonehenge gift
Expressway legacy threat mars centenary of Stonehenge donation
Friday 26th October was the centenary of the gift of Stonehenge to the nation by Sir Cecil and Lady Chubb. This weekend, English Heritage is marking the occasion with a specially commissioned tea party designed by Jeremy Deller and an installation of his work, “Sacrilege”, an almost life-sized inflatable Stonehenge. A joyous public celebration for some, but for many others it could mark impending sacrilege for the nation’s most famous World Heritage Site.
A distinguished archaeologist speaks out against the Stonehenge tunnel
Professor Mike Parker Pearson, leading expert in British Neolithic archaeology, speaks out about the Stonehenge tunnel in a newly released video to share his profound concerns.  At barely 3km long the tunnel would be too short within a World Heritage Site that is more than 5km across, full of prehistoric monuments.  Mike reminds us that the UNESCO World Heritage Site is “a designation of an entire landscape. It’s one of the few places, not just in Britain but in the World, where you can see a special, sacred landscape developed over thousands of years.”   Professor Mike Parker Pearson
Stonehenge tunnel sets a bad precedent”   http://
Will the UK Government finally come to its senses and re-consider the A303 road-widening scheme and the damage it would do to our World Heritage Site? It isn’t too late to call a halt and heed the advice of UNESCO and other internationally acknowledged experts.

A less damaging solution would properly and rightly protect the remarkable surroundings of Stonehenge about which we now know so much more than we did a hundred years ago.

Short 1 minute clip of the video can be seen here
Full briefing about A303 Stonehenge scheme
Sign up here to receive updates from the Planning Inspectorate and register your interest in having a say about the Stonehenge Tunnel scheme.


Ian Hislop’s search for dissent

6 September 2018 – 20 January 2019

Members free

We’ve invited Private Eye Editor Ian Hislop (you know, the one from Have I Got News For You) to have a rummage around in the stores. On his search, he’s hand-picked a range of intriguing objects that explore the idea of dissent, subversion and satire (but don’t worry, we made him wear gloves).

A wide variety of objects will be on display in the exhibition – from graffiti on a Babylonian brick to a banknote with hidden rude words, from satirical Turkish shadow puppets to a recently acquired ‘pussy’ hat worn on a women’s march. See what tales these objects tell – sometimes deadly serious, often humorous, always with conviction. Unlock the messages and symbols these people used, and get closer to understanding them. The British Museum doesn’t escape ridicule either – the joke has been on us on more than one occasion.

This history in 100(ish) objects shows that people have always challenged and undermined orthodox views in order to enable change. They even did so despite the establishment usually taking a pretty dim view – for most of history you could expect a gruesome punishment, up to and including death, for this kind of subversive behaviour. This suggests that maybe we are programmed to dissent – it’s just part of who we are. Ultimately, the exhibition will show that questioning authority, registering protest and generally objecting are an integral part of what makes us human.


Hitchin Town Hall, Brand Street, Hitchin

Our Fight for the Vote

13 October -1 December. Admission Free. Closed Mondays.

This exhibition tells the story of the brave women in our area who campaigned for their belief that women should be able to vote. Elizabeth Impey of Hitchin was arrested for ‘disorderly conduct’ in 1907 just for walking three abreast outside Parliament, whereas Letchworth’s Jane Short took a more militant approach. She had previously broken the windows of both Baldock and Hitchin Post Offices, was later imprisoned for arson. Lady Constance Lytton of Knebworth House was force-fed so harshly that her health never recovered.

North Herts. Museum is fortunate in having a collection of Mrs Impey’s suffragette letters and mementoes, including her Holloway badge, her Votes for Woman rosette and scarf, and an autograph book signed by famous suffragettes including Christabel Pankhurst, Annie Kenney and Millicent Fawcett. All three came to speak at Hitchin Town Hall, causing near riots in the town – on several occasions mounted police reinforcements had to be brought in from other parts of the county.  The Impey’s house in Whinbush Road was once stormed by a large crowd of anti-suffragette men and women, and Mrs Impey was sent unpleasant anonymous postcards; the Edwardian version of a vicious Tweet.

The exhibition will be displaying photographs from our collection, as well as ones from the Museum of London. Step inside our recreated cell to get an idea of what being locked in Holloway was like. See contemporary banners and objects from our museum collection, find out the stories of local and national women fighting for the right to vote.


Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms- Art, Word, War

Now to 19th February 2019.

600 years. 180 spectacular treasures. A once-in-a-generation exhibition.

Treasures from the British Library’s own collection, including the beautifully illuminated Lindisfarne Gospels, Beowulf and Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, sit alongside stunning finds from Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard. The world-famous Domesday Book offers its unrivalled depiction of the landscape of late Anglo-Saxon England while Codex Amiatinus, a giant Northumbrian Bible taken to Italy in 716, returns to England for the first time in 1300 years.

The people of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms tell their story, in their own words. Explore the beginnings of the English language and English literature. Read some of the earliest-surviving words inscribed in English on objects large and small. Come face-to-face with manuscripts of Old English poetry and prose and the first letter written in English. Wonder at the wit and wisdom in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

Entrance £16, British Library Members Free. It is advisable to book in advance, on-line or 0207 412639


2018/19 Subscriptions became due on 1st June 2018. Please renew. The Society cannot continue to function without all members’ subscriptions. In particular, lecturers’ fees and expenses and hall hire have to come from subscriptions. Lack of sufficient income from subscriptions may result in fewer lectures. It’s up to us members. Thank you to all who have paid your subscription and renewedyour membership.

Outstanding subscriptions may be paid in person at any meeting when membership cards can usually be issued also. Otherwise subscription cheques may be posted to Diane Burleigh, NHAS, 10 Cromwell Way, Pirton, Hitchin, Herts SG5 3RD.

Please note 2018/19 Membership cards are now available and may be collected at any of our lectures.

Adult £19, Family £24, Concessions (over 65, under 16), £10.

Non-members are welcome at any of our meetings. There will be a charge of £4 for entry.

Please renew your subscription otherwise you may be removed from our membership and circulation lists.

Thank you.

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