Once again we enjoyed a fascinating mix of talks on a wide variety of subjects.
We started the year with a talk from Northern Archaeological Associates on the recent archaeological excavations as part of the A1 Improvement Scheme. This coincided with an exhibition of finds at The Bowes Museum. Mags Felter from York Archaeological Trust joined us in April to tell us about the Aldborough Roman Burial and she was accompanied by Nick Wilson on whose land this was found. Nick who told us about the great impact that this important find had had on him.
Alex Croom, from Tyne and Wear Museum, was back in Aldborough by popular demand in May with “Running the Roman Home” and in June Ken Shaw gave us a fascinating insight into the water systems of Pompeii with “Pompeii – Talking Water”. We found out more about ” John Clayton, the Man who saved Hadrian’s Wall” from Frances McIntosh, Curator of Roman Collections at Corbridge.
At our Open Days in September we were joined by Heuristics who have worked for many years at historic sites and museums. They brought Aldborough Roman site to life with their hands on approach to Roman inventions.
Gareth and Nicole Beale also joined us in September to talk about their innovative work using creative digital technologies with community groups to record archaeological and historical features. The first part of the talk focused on the workshop held at Aldborough, which aimed to train local volunteers to work with the Aldborough Roman Town Project to record the Roman stone work at the site. For the second half of the presentation, they outlined their new project ‘Discovering England’s Burial Spaces’ (DEBS). This new Historic England funded project will support community-led burial research, creating training materials and recording technologies.
Martin Millett and Rose Ferraby also returned to give us the latest Cambridge University presentation. “Digging Deeper at Isurium Brigantum” showed us how the last 8 years has seen a huge expansion in their knowledge about Roman Aldborough. The extensive geophysical surveys (featured in previous talks) have allowed them to map the town itself as well as vast tracts of the land around it. As a result, they have been able to gradually form a clearer picture of the development of the town and its wider context in Roman Britain. The results of this year’s excavations were discussed in the context of this broader overview, showing how they fit into the wider picture.
Anne Jenner, York Archaeological Trust’s pottery analyst came to Aldborough in October. She shared some of her vast wealth of knowledge with us during our Finds Day in October and talked to us about Roman pottery finds from York on which she is currently working.
Our final talk of the year was given by Dominic Powesland, Director of the Landscape Research Centre whose ground breaking work on archaeological landscape is world renowned. He told us about the work that he has been doing at West Heslerton for almost 40 years and his more recent involvement in The Aldborough Roman Town Project.
The 2017 Programme comprised 9 talks (5 of which took place on a Saturday afternoon) 4 visits and the two Open Days. The best attended talk was that of Martin and Rose in St Andrew’s Church in September when 120 were present. Local residents enjoyed free admission to this and The Aldborough Roman burial talk. Aldborough Village Hall and St Andrew’s Church have been used as venues and sound systems in both locations have improved aubibility.
Refreshments continue to be well provided by Irene and Jane together with extra occasional support. They are very well received and Irene’s cakes are now legendary!
Notices requesting donations towards interpretation panels have brought in extra funds this year. This request is also now always included in the final summing up at the end of each talk. The raffle, organised by Sue with help from Wendy, also continues to raise extra funds. Again there have been excellent prizes, often relating to the talk, which have been greatly appreciated by the winners! Copies of the updated guidebook continue to sell at the talks. A good team has developed and has lead to talks now running. Ann, Wendy and Jean welcoming on the door and the different procedures for members and visitors seem to work better than previously. Jane and Andrew have kindly stepped in this year to oversee the setting up of the projector and laptop.
Details of all talks are now shown on the new website. As well as the printed programme, which has been distributed to Tourist Information Centres and local libraries, Jane advertises in The Lower Ure News and also emails information to local history groups. I also send information to the Ripon Gazette, Harrogate Advertiser, Darlington and Stockton Times, York Press and the Yorkshire Post.
2017 SUGGESTED DEVELOPMENTS
- The Village Hall sound system will be used as from February.
- Visibility and audibility will be reviewed before the September talk in St Andrew’s Church
- Recruit an extra person to help with the projector in case of David Bellwood’s absence.
- Ensure there are notices by the raffle and refreshments stating that money received will be used to fund improvements on the museum site.
2018 SUGGESTED DEVELOPMENTS
- Recruit a person to help regularly with the projector and able to rectify problems on the spot and ask speakers to bring their own laptops.
- Set up chairs lengthways and use screen for talks in Village Hall.
- Help is needed with the erection of the large screen before the September talk in St Andrew’s Church.
- The printed programme will include talks and visits in chronological order and will feature a map.
- It will be noted on the programme that talks may be altered at short notice due to unforeseen circumstances.
- Copies of the printed programme will be delivered to Tanner Row for distribution to other EH properties.
- A perspex box holding programmes will be fixed by the museum gate.
- Details will also be sent to history contacts in York and to Radio York and Stray FM.
- We will attempt to get feature articles in The Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Life.
David Roberts 2017 Programme Co-ordinator
VISITS (elsewhere by our members)
In 2017, we made our usual number of four visits to a varied assortment of locations within the North of England. It has been our policy for several years to include not only Romano/British sites of particular relevance to Roman Aldborough but also to places of interest within a reasonable distance. We averaged 12-15 attendees on each visit. Travel was by the Community mini-bus and our thanks go to Tim Barber for his exemplary patience and driving skills. However unlike 2016, we were singularly unlucky with the weather at some point on each visit, cold (Stanwick), thick mist and drizzle (Houseteads and Chesters), rain (Rievaulx) and storm force winds (Hull).
A resume of the visits is as follows:
- Stanwick and Bowes Museum May 9th.
We were lucky enough to secure Colin Haselgrove, of Leicester University and the leading authority on Stanwick, to give us a personal tour of the rambling earthworks which lie just north of Scotch Corner. The site covers a considerable area and is thought to have been the palace/headquarters of Cartimandua the Brigantian Queen at the time of the Roman early occupation of the North. On a cold and cloudy morning (hardly May-like), we were enthralled by Colin’s knowledge and enthusiasm about this huge and, to a certain extent little known site. Afterwards as the sun came out, his colleague Dave Fell gave us a fascinating update on the on-going excavations at Scotch Corner/A1/ Catterick.
We then proceeded to Bowes Museum for lunch – welcome and enjoyed- and a now gloriously sunny May afternoon taking in aspects of the Museum’s eclectic collections. A wonderful drive home to avoid the A1 road works!!
2. Rievaulx Abbey June 13th.
On yet another dull and wet morning we arrived at Rievaulx Abbey for a tour of the new Museum and Exhibition by Susan Harrison, curator of the English Heritage Finds Department at Helmsley. Susan has close links with Aldborough and is a frequent visitor to the site in her official capacity. We found the new exhibition, housed in the Museum immensely interesting, with beautifully displayed artefacts telling the story of the Abbey, many of which hitherto unseen.
The up to date technology and new facilities in the recently re-furbished Visitor Centre made our day even more enjoyable, especially as the sun appeared after lunch in time for our own wanderings in the Abbey ruins. Rievaulx has a special atmosphere – its setting, peace and tranquillity are unique. A thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking day.
- Houseteads and Chesters July 19th
It was a long journey up to Hadrian’s Wall and the Northumbrian countryside was shrouded in thick clinging fog. Undeterred, we climbed up to Houseteads and spent an absorbing couple of hours exploring the vast fort and contemplating how the Roman garrison must have felt looking on a similar landscape in similar conditions. The small Museum offered some respite from the weather with interesting displays of artefacts and explanations of army life ‘at the edge’. In the afternoon we travelled the short distance to Chesters to be met by Graeme Stobbs, Assistant Curator at Corbridge who gave us a very full and comprehensive tour of this unique site and the Clayton Collection in particular. The small Museum contained a wonderful exhibition of Roman stonework and epigraphy and it would have been good to have had a little more time to allow closer study.
- Hull October 21st
Our last visit of 2016 was to Hull, City of Culture; in particular the East Riding Museum. This was a first visit to the city for a number of us and very enjoyable.
Peter Halkon, from Hull University and is the foremost authority on the Parisi tribe and the history and development of the East Riding (indeed, he was instrumental in setting up the whole museum), gave our group a personal tour of the excellent museum, with particular emphasis on the Iron Age, pre-Roman and Romano British aspects. Highlights were the several inter-active displays (including a full size walk- through village and a Romano British street similar to, though smaller than Jorvik) and the long boat, excavated some years ago by Peter himself. East Yorkshire was extensively colonised by the Parisi Tribe followed by the Romans (a surprise to a number of us) and much of the evidence from the Iron Age settlements and the Roman villas and settlements (including several huge, superb mosaics) is on display. Peter was also responsible for much of the archaeology of the region. After a quick snack, we set off to explore some to the city centre. Too many places of interest presented themselves in our relatively short available time and as a group we resolved to return at some point in the near future.
Our 2018 visits are in the final planning stage and details will be available shortly. Locations include: 1. Corbridge, 2. York stone yard, 3. Two sites in the East Riding, tying in with visit to Hull Museum above ( Dr Rose Ferraby, Cambridge University) and 4. A personal tour of Roman Aldborough (also with Martin and Rose).
Wendy Hyam, FORA visits
TOURS AND GROUP VISITS (by others to Roman Aldborough)
Once again we organised tours for visitors to the site at 11.00 and 2.00 on the first Sunday of each month and on Bank Holidays. There were 28 tours in all.
Irene also led a special Roman Ramble at the Easter Walking Festival and we organized continuous tours at A Celebration of Stone with Rose Ferraby from Cambridge University on August 19th and at the Open Days with Roman re-enactors Heuristics on September 2nd and 3rd.
The tours seem to be greatly appreciated by all visitors who enjoy learning about the history of the site and its context within the wider history of the Roman Empire. Visitors also enjoyed the Handling Collection and particularly liked being able to hold a large piece of real Roman mosaic from Aldborough. One Dutch visitor who has constructed numerous mosaics in his house and garden was captivated with this. The Handling Collection notes have been updated and a copy is now available for guides to use.
Donations are given by individuals following these tours. £37 was received on one of the tour days. These donations will be put towards the purchasing of Interpretation Panels on the site.
A number of new guides have been recruited to lead tours. These received training and shadowed experienced guides. The laminated notes used by guides were also updated to include information about the quarry and stone from the site.
This year we had a group visit from Wetherby Civic Society on June 22nd and The Helmsley Archaeological and Historical Society on July 15 2017. The following email from the latter shows their appreciation as does the accompanying Trip Advisor Review.
Thank you and the Friends of Roman Aldborough for an excellent visit yesterday. The tour around the roman site was both entertaining and informative. Three of us, having arrived early, had walked round the site before the tour; it was very apparent just how essential the FORA guides are in providing interpretation and understanding of what one sees on the ground. The walk through the village and tour of the Church, with a guide to point out key features, was also much appreciated.
All the guides were so interesting that I’m afraid we were rather late for tea, I’m sorry if we kept you waiting. For us, the tea was certainly worth waiting and the tiffin every bit as good as you had said.
Please thank everyone involved for providing such an enjoyable afternoon.
I’ve received very enthusiastic comments from HAHS members who attended.
I look forward to hearing results of the coming excavations and revisiting Aldborough at some point in the future.
Trip Advisor Review
I had booked on an organised trip to the site which included a guided tour by the Friends of Roman Aldborough (FORA). It is a partly English Heritage and partly on private land. Normally the Friends do tours once a month on a Sunday afternoon and even though the site is worth visiting anytime the added information given on the tour was both fascinating and valuable in making sense of the remains and the layout of the site. The two lady guides were both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their village and its Roman past! Not only is there an on site museum housing Roman artefacts found around the village but there are 2 mosaics which have been kept in situ and protected by small buildings which are a must see. This site is well worth a visit, as is the rest of the village and its church and, if you have time, a trip into Boroughbridge.
A very enjoyable day out.
Refreshments are no longer made available for the monthly tours but are being provided for group visits. These are greatly appreciated as evidenced by the following email:
Thank you for the excellent tea, which was the best in the 3 years in which I have been organising visits, with which praise all the members agree. Please thank all the bakers on our behalf. Pity the sun only decided to make an appearance later, but at least it stayed dry during our interesting visit.
The booking policy was updated and charges were agreed for group tours.
Policy on Booking Tours and Party Visits to the Museum Site
1 All bookings should be made through FORA
2 Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org
3 Confirmation of booking to be sent by FORA to applicant and EnglishHeritage
4 If teas are required, numbers and time for serving are needed.
5 The cost for tea and cakes £2.50, tea and biscuits £1.50, payable in advance
2017 SUGGESTED DEVELOPMENTS
- Recruit and train more tour guides
- Update guide notes
- Updated Handling Collection notes made available to guides
- Use donations to fund Interpretation Panels on the museum site
2018 SUGGESTED DEVELOPMENTS
- Recruit and train further guides
Ann, Wendy and David have continued to work hard to encourage schools to visit the site. The following local schools were approached to find out if they were studying Romans in 2017 and to be offered support with a visit:
Aspin Park Community Primary School
Boroughbridge Primary School (Visited Sept 2016 and Nov 2017)
Burton Leonard Church of England Primary School (Visited Oct 2017)
Dishforth Airfield Community Primary School (Visited May 2016)
Dishforth Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School *
Easingwold Community Primary School *
Goldsborough Church of England Primary School
Great Ouseburn Community Primary School (Visited April 2014) *
Green Hammerton Church of England Primary School
Kirby Hill Church of England Primary School
Kirk Hammerton Church of England Primary School *
Knaresborough, Meadowside Community Primary School
Knaresborough, St John’s Church of England Primary School
Linton-on-Ouse Primary School (Visited May 2015)
Long Marston Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School *
Marton-cum-Grafton C E Voluntary Aided Primary (Visited Sept 2013)*
Nun Monkton Primary School
Ripley Endowed (Church of England) School
Roecliffe Church of England Primary School (Visited Nov 2017)
St Peter’s Brafferton Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School
Scotton Lingerfield Primary School*
Skelton, Newby Hall Church of England Primary School
Spofforth Church of England (Controlled) Primary School
Starbeck Community Primary School
Staveley Community Primary School *
*Romans on curriculum in 2018 – contact February 2018 re possible visit
A letter was sent to Kate Mavor, Chief Executive in February 2017 asking English Heritage to more actively encourage schools to visit Aldborough.
David and Wendy met with Christine Keld and Lyndsey Appleyard, Education Marketing Manager North at Tanner Row in July. Work that has been done with English Heritage in the past to develop education was discussed.
Matthew Lester, Education Visits Officer North and Lyndsey Appleyard, invited local teachers to an after school meeting at the museum site on Wednesday 27th September from 4.30 – 6.00pm which was attended by 4 teachers from 3 local Primary schools – Burton Leonard, Boroughbridge and Roecliffe.
The FORA Education Focus Group continue to support self led visits involving the following:
- “Step Inside” Activity Guide
- Child friendly tour of the site
- Handling Collection
- Museum activities
- Mosaic making
The updated Handling Collection notes have been printed and laminated.
There are now 6 FORA volunteers helping with school visits.
English Heritage agreed to open the site out of season in October and children from Burton Leonard Primary, Boroughbridge Primary and Roecliffe Primary all enjoyed their visits. The site will now be open until October 2018 enabling more schools to visit this year.
A meeting of the Education Support Group for Historic Houses Association Houses has been attended. Future visits to sites are planned and topics of joint interest to be discussed include curriculum revisions, secondary school visits, priorities for schools, publicity.
2017 SUGGESTED DEVELOPMENTS
- Schools have reported that they are not being encouraged to visit by English Heritage. A letter is to be sent to English Heritage and Liam Cooke and Matthew Lester are to be contacted separately re an early Spring meeting to discuss plans and to find a way forward.
- School visits to be the site will take place on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
- FORA will be able to self manage these visits and volunteers will be trained to man the museum.
- More volunteers will need to be recruited to support school visits.
- Following advice given by Alex Croom about Roman costumes for school visits, costumes are to be acquired and Susan Harrison is being approached re possible suppliers of a cover for the Roman house model.
- Boroughbridge Primary is to use some of the woodland in 2017 for Forest School activities. This is a trial in order to gauge future potential.
2018 SUGGESTED DEVELOPMENTS
- A Child Protection Policy will be written.
- A review sheet will be sent to schools after each visit.
- More volunteers will be recruited to support school visits.
- A script will be written for the school site tour.
- FORA will charge for supporting school visits.
- A cover will be purchased for the model Roman house.
- The Interpretation Panels will help explain the site to children.
David Roberts Education Co-ordinator 2017
In Autumn 2017 FORA applied for Charitable Status and we were pleased to be accepted by the Charity Commission as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in January 2018.
THE OBJECTS OF THE CIO ARE TO ADVANCE EDUCATION BY PROMOTING, SUSTAINING AND INCREASING THE INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE KNOWLEDGE OF PEOPLE OF ALL AGES OF ROMAN HISTORY, LIFE AND CULTURE AND, IN PARTICULAR BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY, THE IMPORTANCE OF ROMAN ALDBOROUGH (ISURIUM BRIGANTUM) IN ROMAN BRITAIN AND THE WIDER ROMAN EMPIRE.