Wednesday, 9 April 2014

East Midlands Community Archaeology Conference Nottingham University April 2014

East Midlands Community Archaeology Conference
Report by Lynda Mallett
Organised by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC
Nottingham University Archaeology Museum,
Lakeside Arts Centre,
University of Nottingham Campus
April 5th 2014
Andy Gaunt Introduces The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project.    Photo Credit Lynda Mallett
Presentations by:
Introduction Tim Yarnell Archaeologist Forestry Commission,
Stuart Reddish of The Friends of Thynghowe The Friends of Thynghowe,
John Lock of Southwell Burgage Earthworks Project Burgage Earthworks,
Janet Spavold and Sue Brown of Ticknall Archaeological Research Group Targ Archaeology,
James Wright of the Clipstone Research Project Archaeology & History of King's Clipstone, Nottinghamshire,
Jim Priest of the Sherwood Archaeology Society,
Richard Tyndall Archaeology in Ancaster,
Chris Rawson and Alex Southern from Elmet Archaeological Services Ltd
Daryl Garton of The Ice Age Journeys Project Ice Age Journeys,
Andy Gaunt of the Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project ( Archaeology and History of Medieval Sherwood Forest ) .
This inaugural East Midlands conference organised by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC was targeted at community groups already involved in archaeological projects. Also attending were individuals or groups wishing to become involved and to learn from more experienced groups.
The Nottingham University Museum and lecture theatre at the Department of Archaeology provided an interesting and most suitable venue for this event.
The topics covered provided an interesting range of opportunities from the more traditional methods of archaeological participation to an up to the minute approach of developing community led landscape archaeology. The presentations by both professional archaeologists and volunteer led projects demonstrated different approaches in involvement of community, and how varied the idea of 'community' could be.
Community volunteer led projects that have received HLF funding have a mandate to include individuals and groups that may not normally be engaged in heritage and archaeology. Some of the groups told of involving the local community payback probation team, children and school groups re-enactment, taking archaeological finds into a shopping mall, washing pot sherds in a café, finding a wider regional and international community and sharing knowledge.
Conversations outside the lecture theatre whilst having breaks provided a different forum for sharing experiences and highlighted some of the differences between 'top down' direction and control and 'bottom up' community led decision making.
Around half of the presentations were by community members and volunteers reflecting on the success and difficulties relating to their own projects. Recruitment of participants and the range of inventive methods of maintaining interest and momentum were common to all presentations.
The sharing process did provide a forum to consider common problems on the subject of access to sites by permission from site owners and the influence of ongoing management of sites at the end of current funding.
Tim Yarnell (opening speaker) Cultural Advisor, Historic Environment Advisor and Archaeologist for the Forestry Commission talked about the importance for the heritage within the FC estates in England being led by community groups. He described the participation, facilitation, and involvement of a number of community led heritage projects within the Forestry Commission forests. He firmly believes that the research output although done by local volunteers was not academically inferior.
Issues of definition and methodology of community archaeology were considered in one presentation. This presentation also explored the importance of the sense of place to those volunteers involved with the archaeological work. This work on the discovery of a Viking Assembly site is now being shared within the much wider community of the Viking diaspora.
One group spoke of how they overcame the recording and training problem, and tackled it by finders doing their own pot sherd washing, drying and recording at home. This was sometimes facilitated by a 'buddy' system, the pairing of experienced volunteers with new recruits.
A group that only had small parcels of funding carried out most of their research using map regression and archive research.
Another group spoke about the difficulties of changing farming practices like deep ploughing and how to maintain the integrity of a site that often had to be left and returned to years later.
It was also pointed out that the underlying geology of a site needs to be understood because changes in the prehistoric geological formation needs to be considered when locating significant
sites in the landscape. This group also had to consider larger excavation areas as small trial trenches can only give limited information.
We learned that the University of Hull part-time BA degree in Archaeology is now the last course of its kind and there is no more intake and it will finish in four years – this is sad for mature learners in this field. Archaeologists from Elmet Archaeological Services Ltd. who teach this degree course also give their time free in outreach work to adults with learning requirements.
There was also an element in another presentation that pointed out the interface between the need for specialist equipment and training and using it by volunteers in the discovery of concentrated finds – in this case mechanical auguring equipment.
It was noted that some professional archaeology companies and community led groups were interdependent – community groups providing the funding for professional support and training – the professionals providing free advice, support and training and the loan of equipment to community groups. When this is done with respect and trust it is a win win for archaeological heritage.
The value of this type of event lies within the opportunity for public knowledge transfer. This process not only brings to attention new discoveries but also provides the opportunity for individuals to expand their own knowledge in the field of community archaeology.
In providing an academic setting and giving local groups an opportunity to present their research findings it can only strengthen the success of the individual groups. In order to spread the word, and further their presentation skills, it is essential that volunteers in community archaeology have the opportunity to present their experience and knowledge to a wider community.
This event has the intention of becoming an annual event and as the East Midlands community archaeology and heritage groups continue to pro-actively network this will provide a conduit for other activities and training opportunities.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

King John: Nottinghamshire and the Magna Carta

By Stuart Reddish

King John had very close associations with Nottinghamshire. He was the great-grandson of William the Conqueror. William gave to his bastard son William the Honour of Peverill (Perlethorpe) in Nottinghamshire. This was a fiefdom that could make its own laws and raise its own taxes. He became known as William Peverill.

Clearly William the Conqueror saw Nottinghamshire as a strategic area in his plans by giving it to his son and rebuilding the castle. As did John's father Henry II, who gave his son titles and manors in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and in 1174 King Henry II gave the castle of Nottingham to his favourite son. John was known as the Earl of Mortain, he was also given the Great Manor of Mansfield.

Nottingham Castle remained John’s chief and most frequented residence until he was ejected in 1194 by the return to England of his brother King Richard 1 (Richard the Lionheart). It was in this year that Richard discovered the suitability of Sherwood Forest for a Royal hunting ground and April 17 1194 he met the King of the Scots at Clipstone. The King's Houses at Kings Clipstone had already been built by his father Henry but were now extended and renovated by both Richard and John.

In 1189 when Richard became king he settled on John the whole estate of William Peverill – the Honour of Peverill, also the Earldoms of Nottingham, Lancaster and Derby and several other places. Richard then left England for the Holy Land and left John in charge. 1193 Richard returns to England from his religious crusades. He is dissatisfied with how John has ruled in his absence. John retreated to Nottingham Castle, and Richard gathered forces and laid siege to Nottingham and the castle at Tickhill. Both castles and the surrounding area held fast to John. But eventually John was overcome and the charges laid were treason. But the brothers became reconciled and Richard once again left England for France.

In 1199 King Richard died and John finally became king. King John was generally despised as a weak and cowardly man, but during his reign there was a decline of animosity between the Saxons and Normans and they became unified in their hatred of John.

In Nottinghamshire and his other manors John appears to be thought of more fondly – he was the Lord of the Great Manor of Mansfield and appears to have had many friends and treated his tenants and followers with respect and generosity. He spent time at his favourite place the King's Houses in Clipstone, this being one of the places he enjoyed the most, entertaining and hunting in the Deer Park and the Royal Forest of Sherwood. It was a palace fit for a king - indeed extensive recent investigation has shown a vast site of high status.

In 1212 while John was residing at Clipstone he was informed that an insurrection was planned by Welsh nobles. King John summoned his Barons, who were enjoying the chase with him, to a parley under the bows of an oak tree on the boundary of the Deer Park of Clipstone. That oak tree became known locally as the Parliament Oak and is named as such in an 1816 Perambulation Document describing the boundary walk in that year. Parliament Oak is still growing on the boundary. With the consent of the Barons and in a rage he had 28 young Welsh 'princes' hung on the walls outside Nottingham Castle. This was seen universally as a cruel and despicable act.

There followed a general uprising in England against John. General unrest amongst the Barons against the burden of rising taxes began to cause unrest. The feudal Barons demanded the king be subject to the rule of law. In 1215 he met with the Barons at Runnymede and signed the Magna Carta. This Charter required John to proclaim certain liberties and accept that his will was not arbitrary by explicitly accepting that no "freeman" could be punished except through the law of the land, a right that still exists.

John then returned to the Kings Houses at Clipstone Sherwood Forest and resumed his hunting!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Thynghowe Spring Thing 2014 Sherwood Pines Nottinghamshire

The second annual two day Spring Thing cultural heritage event is presented by The Friends of Thynghowe, The Forestry Commission and the spectacular Regia Anglorum re-enactors who will create a living history camp deep in the Heart of Sherwood Forest.

This major FREE event of 2014 will be held May 17th & 18th at Sherwood Pines Nottinghamshire ... (car parking charges apply at the normal rates).

It is the year of 1214 and this year Thynghowe's Spring Thing is to receive a special visit from KING JOHN who will be staying at his hunting palace at Clipstone. Will the local Barons and the descendant's of our Viking Farmers accept his new laws and taxes ,... or will they refuse to pay and be outlawed?

Sunday, 16 February 2014



Any events advertised will take place in the area shown on the map below. Exact locations, dates and times will be in the details of the event.

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Researching a Landscape of Governance
Sherwood Heritage is run by the Public Information Research Organisation to promote the tangible and intangible cultural landscape of Sherwood Forest Nottinghamshire. It is an information hub supporting public knowledge transfer and historical research.

Archaeology and History of Medieval Sherwood Forest

Archaeology and History of Medieval Sherwood Forest


A not for profit site: promoting Sherwood Forest and its heritage: - by
A Mercian Archaeological Services CIC project promoting the Archaeology, History and Heritage of Sherwood Forest, its landscape and people.

The project supports and promotes the work of individuals and groups (often voluntary) who undertake work in the Forest.

And to raise the profile of this heritage and work to the widest possible audience. ...

If you have any news about heritage work you or your group are undertaking in the Forest, please contact Mercian through Facebook messaging or at

This project is ran (as of June 2013) by Mercian Archaeological Services CIC a Community Interest Company undertaking Community Archaeology in Sherwood Forest and the East Midlands.

Archaeology & History of King's Clipstone, Nottinghamshire

Archaeology & History of King's Clipstone, Nottinghamshire

A decade long research project on the archaeology and history of Kings Clipstone & New Clipstone, Nottinghamshire in the heart of Sherwood Forest.
Lying in the heart of Sherwood Forest the villages of King's Clipstone and New Clipstone have a remarkable history. This heritage includes the site of a mediaeval royal palace known as the King's Houses, fascinating links to the estate of both the Earl of Newcastle and Duke of Portland and in more recent times the expansion of the settlement brought about by coal-mining. This page will focus on the rich tapestry of history and archaeology in both villages including regular updates on research projects as new evidence is uncovered.