by David Hartley

National Archaeology Week is an annual event, sponsored by English Heritage and the Council for British Archaeology and YAC (Young Archaeologists Club), and for the second year running Leatherhead Museum played a part in this countrywide enterprise.

The launch of NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGY WEEK was on Saturday 15th July with our invited guest the Chairman of Mole Valley District Council, Councillor Valerie Homewood and our Guest of Honour, Dr Frank Pemberton, the noted local archaeologist from Epsom & Ewell Archaeological & History Society.

Councillor Homewood gave an excellent address to the invited audience of members of our Society and to members of the public on the relevance and importance of history in today's society. This is reproduced on the next page of the Newsletter. She then introduced Dr Pemberton who reflected on his early years living in Fetcham and his early archaeological experience digging with Fred Hastings on the Iron Age site at Hawks Hill, Fetcham in the 1960s as well as at other archaeological sites around Leatherhead.

The weather was wonderful for the outdoor exhibition which was staged in the museum garden. This illustrated aspects of local history and archaeology going back as far as the Ice Age. Exhibits included Mesolithic flints as well as brick production on the site of the Ashtead Roman Villa and in more recent times in Lower Ashtead. Other exhibits covered excavations of Iron Age sites on Hawks Hill with a new showcase exhibiting Iron Age pottery from the excavation kindly lent to us by Dr Mary Alexander FSA, Curator of Guildford Museum.

Graham Evans our very own curator also arranged a number of archaeological exhibits, artefacts from Leatherhead and the surrounding area which attracted a lot of interest from visitors to our museum. There were a number of hands on activities arranged for children including using embossed rollers and blocks with clay to reproduce the famous Dog & Stag Roman flue tile patterns from Ashtead Roman Villa, print making, and demonstrations of coil potting techniques given by Justine Munson a noted local potter. The National Ice Age Network provided a number of fascinating artefact identification sheets, free for children, to assist them identifying fossils, shells, insects, and tools of bone and flint.

It was a great week for both adults and children with their parents which will be repeated at same time next year at our museum.

From the speech by Councillor Valerie Homewood, Chairman of Mole Valley District Council

“Chairman, Guests and Friends of Leatherhead Museum - Thank you for inviting me as Chairman of Mole Valley District Council to the opening of National Archaeology Week here at Hampton Cottage.

May I congratulate you on arranging matters so well this year so that this occasion coincides with the launch of the national campaign called History Matters. This campaign brings together the National Trust, English Heritage and the Historic Houses Association to remind us all of the importance of history. It was started off last week with a remarkable speech by Stephen Fry, actor and unexpectedly knowledgeable historian. He began with his usual verbal fireworks: –

How can we know who we are if we don't know who we were?...
Life is lived forward but understood backwards...
History is a comedy to those who think, but a tragedy to those who feel ...
Historians are prophets looking backwards .. and so on.

But he came much nearer the truth, I think, when he said
"History is not the story of strangers - of aliens from another realm. It is the story of all of us had we been born a little earlier."

Some of the story of the past can be understood through the objects that people left behind them deliberately, by way of historical texts, carved inscriptions and things that were meant for us to see. Some of the story we have to pick up through what people dropped, lost, left behind in a hurry to escape invaders, or just put aside because it was broken or old fashioned. Some of the story of the past flows through our libraries. Some we find in stately homes, churches and cathedrals.

And the really interesting material is unearthed - literally - through the efforts of dedicated archaeologists, and emerges into our museums to surprise us all. That is shown in the notes and transactions of the Museum and of the Surrey Archaeological Society. Much has been found, but there is much more to discover.

The Guest of Honour, Frank Pemberton, BA, MA, AIFA spoke as follows : -

“As we know there is a wealth of archaeology and history locally. Along the river and stream banks, flints tools and arrowheads of the hunter gatherers and traces of the first farmers have been found dating back to about 5000-3000 B.C.. Excavations and a survey have taken place of farmsteads consisting of round wooden houses surrounded by a stockade dating from the Iron Age, around 700-500 B.C., with an example at Hawks Hill, Leatherhead. For this we had the support of the local council.

With the coming of the Romans, a road built from Chichester to London, was constructed in our area, passing through the Mole Valley Gap and over Mickleham Downs. Recent excavations at Dorking and Epsom involving local people, have been taking place on the road.

Roman villas are known in the area, notably at Ashtead, where a research project will enable local people to take part. Other villas are known at Walton Heath and Walton-on-the-Hill. You should know that David Hartley, your Chairman is involved in the coordination of a study of Roman villas throughout Surrey.

So it's against this background that I took up archaeology, as a teenager living in Fetcham. It is my hope this archaeology week will encourage many local people take up an interest in archaeology. "

As part of National Archaeology Week I led a walk around parts of Leatherhead on the morning of Sunday 15th July to see some present and former industrial sites. Perhaps due to inadequate publicity there was only one member of the public who joined a very small group of society members. We concentrated on Church Street, Bridge Street, the bridge and the riverside, then visited the site of Fetcham Mill, up Waterways Road to the Industrial Park and thence to the railway station.

We then walked along Randall’s Road and up Bull Hill, then back into the town centre, finishing our two hour walk at the museum, from whence we had started. I took with me some photographs from the Society collections, which added to the ‘then and now’ aspects of the tour. It seemed to be enjoyed by those taking part. The weather was perfect, unlike the last time I led a similar walk when it poured with rain and we had to curtail the walk. I have deliberately not detailed here the sites we saw and which I described. We hope to repeat the walk later on. If I had given you all the details, you would have been able to do it on your own, which defeats the object of having a guided walk !
Gordon Knowles

National Archaeology Week at the Leatherhead Museum
Programme of Events
15th-23rd July 2006

Saturday 15th July: Museum opens at 10am

noon: our Guest of Honour, Frank Pemberton, a well known local archaeologist and invited guests and press will assemble at the Leatherhead Museum at Hampton Cottage 64 Church Street, Leatherhead.

12.15 pm Frank Pemberton will address the invited audience and launch this year’s National Archaeology week. Invited guest & press will preview the standing exhibition for this year’s event which will be displayed in the Gazebo in the museum garden. – Visitors Welcome.

1.30 pm Justine Munson our local potter will provide a demonstration of coil potting techniques to produce a vessel based on an Iron Age type found at Hawks Hill, Fetcham Surrey

4pm: Museum closes

Sunday 16th July 2006 10.00 - Noon
A Guided Walk Around Leatherhead
Gordon Knowles, an Industrial Archaeologist and Vice President of the L&DLHS will lead a walk around the town of Leatherhead looking at both past and present industrial archaeological sites. The walk will start promptly outside the Leatherhead Museum in Church Street at 10 am and will be completed by noon in time for lunch. The numbers of walkers will be limited on a first come basis to a maximum of 15 for reasons of safety & manageability.

For details contact: - David Hartley directly on 07947 471165 or email [replace AT with @ before sending]

The Leatherhead Museum will re-open 10.00-16.00 for National Archaeology Week on Thursday 20th to Saturday 22nd July with Standing Exhibitions in the Museum & Garden:
* Ice Age Britain
* Display of Mesolithic Artefacts
* Display Hawks Hill & Ashtead Park Iron Age Farmsteads Sites
* Display Ashtead Brick Industry
* Display Roman, Medieval and Modern Brick Production

Children’s Activities & Competition
* Painting and Drawing Competition
* Eye Spy Quiz
* Print Making, Potato Cuts and block making.

Saturday 22nd July 1.30 pm
Justine Munson our local potter will provide a further demonstration of coil potting techniques for children applying surface decoration using simple implements.
Please note: That all children must be accompanied by at least one adult during their visit to the museum.
Museum will close at 4 pm

Sunday 23rd July 2006 10.00 -12.00
Conclusion to National Archaeology Week with a
A Guided Walk - Woodfield & the Marsh Ashtead
Brian Bouchard an Ashtead resident and member of L&DLHS will lead an interesting walk around the little known Woodfield & Marsh area of Lower Ashtead. The walk will start at Ashtead Station Car park. Numbers of walkers will be limited on a first come basis to a maximum of 15 for reasons of safety & manageability.

For details contact: - David Hartley directly on 07947 471165 or email [replace AT with @ before sending]

Review of 21-23 July 2005 National Archaeology Week at the Leatherhead Museum