Tuesday 11th February: ‘Community archaeology, geophysics and the Roman settlements of Hertfordshire’, by Drs. Kris Lockyear and Ellen Shasko, Institute of Archaeology, University of London.
Letchworth Free Church hall, 8pm.

Wednesday 19th March: ‘Results of recent fieldwalking in Ashwell, Herts’, by Sarah Talks, Ashwell Archaeology Group. Sarah is the Chairwoman of the Friends of Ashwell Village Museum and a Member of NHAS. This is a joint meeting with the Friends, by kind invitation. Ashwell Village School, Silver St, 8pm.

Just to whet your appetites for the 2014/15 season:

September: ‘Excavations in the 1960s and 1970s by the late James Dyer at the Iron Age Hillfort of Ravensburgh Castle, Hexton, Hertfordshire’, by Dr. Ian Brown, University of Oxford. James was a Vice-President of the North Hertfordshire Archaeological Society from its beginning in 1960. He directed the 1964 excavation season at Ravensburgh jointly with the late Dr. John Moss-Eccardt, our Society’s founder. James died last year at the age of 80.

Tuesday 7th October: ‘Excavations in the Iron Age and Roman town of Silchester and the origins of towns in Britain’, by Professor Michael Fulford, CBE, FBA, Department of Archaeology, University of Reading. Letchworth Free Church, Gernon Road/Norton Way South, 8pm. This will be a public lecture for which an admission charge will be made, with a reduced rate for NHAS members.

November: ’50 Years Digging – adventures of an archaeologist’, by Gil Burleigh, NHAS Field Officer.

Stop Press: The Planning Inspector who held the second public inquiry in November 2013 into his interim decision to make the Icknield Way between Ickleford and Pirton (Barton Rd) a Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) rather than a Bridleway, has just announced his final decision, in a lengthy and not easy to follow document, which is to confirm the route as a BRIDLEWAY!
Our thanks for this historic victory go to all of our Members who wrote their objections to the Inspector and attended the Inquiry, to Harry Spenser-Smith and the Icknield Way Action Group (IWAG), to their brilliant and meticulous advocate, James Pavey, and to the experts from the Green Lane Protection Group and the Green Lane Environmental Action Group, who presented such an incredibly well-researched case.
I reproduce here the press release from IWAG:

“Following a second Public Inquiry in November 2013, the Planning Inspector has determined that the Icknield Way from Westmill Lane to the B655 Hitchin-Barton road should be a Bridleway.

Following submissions from The Icknield Way Action Group, the Green Lane Protection Group and over 91 local objectors the Inspector changed his mind and altered his original decision, an unusual occurrence. The prospect of the blind summit at Punches Cross and the semi-blind corner on the B655 being exited by massed 4x4s and motorbikes is receding, but our opponents the Trail Riders Fellowship still have 3 months to appeal. But in that case they would have to go to the High Court and argue against lawyers from the Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs.

The Inspector’s 22 page judgement makes mention of the part played by local people. Although, as expected, he says a number of submissions were made concerning archaeological, safety and environmental concerns of which he could not take note, he makes other comments concerning the views of local people.

“Although there is recent evidence of use by vehicles,” he states, “the view of the Parish Council is consistent with recollections of the local residents”. He goes on to say “I conclude on the balance of probabilities that the Order Route is a Bridleway …and that the proposed modification [to be a Byway Open to All Traffic] should not be pursued.” At another point in his judgement he goes on to say “the view of local residents was that the route has a reputation as being a Bridleway and a number of individuals outlined their use on foot and on horseback not encountering vehicular use”.

On behalf of IWAG, Harry Spencer-Smith would like to say a big thank you to all those residents who made these points in their written objections or in person at the November 2013 Public Inquiry.

Our County Councillor David Barnard and local District Councillor Faye Barnard added their congratulations. They said: “ Well done to all… it is brilliant to confirm that local opinion, and a dogged response, can still bring about a result.”

What were the deciding factors of the judgement in our favour? IWAG’s lawyer James Pavey of Thomas Eggar asked the crucial question at the Inquiry. What was the compelling evidence that the Icknield Way had been a vehicular carriageway before the Enclosure Commissioners set it out as a Bridleway? Our opponents could not provide such compelling evidence. On the contrary, academic and archaeological input from the Green Lane Protection Group and North Herts Archaeological Society stated that the ancient route was a skein of tracks over the North Hertfordshire landscape. It was unsafe to claim one particular track had vehicular rights.

There was another factor in our favour. The Inspector commented that the Pirton Commissioners had determined in 1818 that the Icknield Way was to be set out as Bridleway of 24 feet. However under a 1993 case relating to another dispute a judge had decided that Enclosure Commissioners only had the power to make a highway of 30 feet. So, bizarrely, the Pirton Commissioners decision had been made technically invalid 175 years after the event. However, he reasoned, the Commissioners’ clear impression at the time of the decision was that the route was a Bridleway and he should give some weight to this in his decision, which he duly did.

These observations give just a hint of some of the baffling complexities IWAG, GLPG, local historical researchers and their legal team have been wrestling with over the last 9 months. Our grateful thanks go to them and to the small group of local people who have funded the not inconsiderable costs of the legal challenge. We cannot know for sure until the 3 month period for our opponents to appeal has past, but our hope is that the matter is closed and the Icknield Way is preserved as it always has been as a Bridleway and Footpath for local residents, their children and grandchildren.”

A last word on this from our long-term Member, Tim Jurdon, who wrote yesterday, with characteristic humour:

“Dear Harry
After half an hour’s reading yesterdays brown env’s contents I concluded that the BOAT had sunk.
Well done for all your hard work
and many thanks from
Tim Jurdon”


The British Museum –

Beyond El Dorado
power and gold
in ancient Colombia

Organised with Museo del Oro

17 October 2013 – 23 March 2014

Book online

BM Members free/Open late Fridays

If you’re interested in news of the latest discoveries from around the world, visit this website:


Heritage Daily – Latest Archaeology News and Archaeological Press Releases


Egyptology, Aztecs, Ancient History, Anthropology, Incas, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, etc.


Our President, Francis Pryor, has sent me this great news about the publication of his thriller/detective novel:


Dear Gilbert

Pitch video screenshot

HOORAY! We’ve done it. The Lifers’ Club has reached its minimum target and will now certainly be published. In the meantime I and those clever folks at Unbound have got several things to do: designing, editing and producing the book. To find out what we’re all up to you can visit my Shed at the Unbound website (and they’re going to teach me how to update it all by myself!!!).

All this is going to take time, and while we’re doing it we’ll still be able to enlist any further subscribers here. If you’d like to increase your current pledge level to include further goodies, then please do so by clicking on the upgrade options, listed below your current pledge level here. All new names will, of course, be listed in the back of the book until we close the subscribers’ list to move onto the next step.

I’m now a convert to crowd-funding. Never before have I established such a strong link with my readership as I have with this project – and the book hasn’t even been printed! Later I’ll be appearing at book festivals and book-signings and I VERY much hope we’ll be able to meet in person, if I don’t know you already. I’ll be publishing full contact details in my Shed.

Thank you so much for backing The Lifers’ Club. And I hope it gives you at least one sleepless night…

All the best,


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2013/14 Subscriptions became due on 1st June 2013. Please renew now. 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.

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.

Adult £15, Family £20, Concessions (over 65, under 16), £8.

Subscriptions for 2014/15 onwards were raised by a vote at the AGM last May. As from

1st June 2014: Adult £19, Family £24, Concessions £10

Non-members are welcome at any of our meetings. There will be a charge of £3 for entry.

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

Thank you.


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