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Volunteering How to join Talks & events Contact Newsletters C・A・T
FCAT: Friends of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust
Roman Canterbury
Roman Canterbury
Anglo-Saxon Canterbury
Anglo-Saxon Canterbury
Canterbury's Motte and Bailey
Canterbury's Motte and Bailey
Canterbury Castle
Canterbury Castle
Roman Ridingate c AD 300
Roman Ridingate c AD 300
Folkestone Roman villa
Folkestone Roman villa
Canterbury Westgate and Holy Cross Church
Canterbury Westgate and Holy Cross Church

Who are the Friends?

Founded in 1984 and with a membership approaching 400, the principal aim of the Friends is to support the work of Canterbury Archaeological Trust, a registered charity and one of the foremost archaeological units in the country.

Friends’ support is provided principally through financial grants and volunteering. Each year the Friends make grants totalling thousands of pounds to the Trust to support its projects and provides bursaries to staff to assist with professional development. The Friends gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the Donald Baron Fund in contributing to these bursaries.

What are the benefits of joining the Friends?

  • The satisfaction of supporting one of UK’s foremost archaeological units
  • Receive Canterbury's Archaeology, the full colour review of the Trust’s work, free each year
  • Receive three newsletters a year updating you on Trust activities, related topics and Friends events
  • Enjoy access to the Trust’s library (by appointment)
  • Purchase Trust publications at a concessionary rate
  • Participate in courses and training excavations organised by the Trust at a concessionary rate
  • Attend public talks at a concessionary rate (young people and full-time students are welcome to attend without charge)
  • Receive up to date information on events and activities related to the heritage of Canterbury and its region
  • Enjoy ‘household’ membership which allows family-wide participation

... and opportunities for volunteering

Steward exhibitions and excavations
Volunteering to be a steward
Volunteering to be a steward
Volunteering to be a steward
Help with educational activities
Helping with educational activities
Helping with educational activities
Helping with educational activities
Work on site
Volunteering on site
Volunteering on site
Volunteering on site
Process finds and environmental evidence from excavations
Processing finds and environmental evidence
Processing finds and environmental evidence
Processing finds and environmental evidence

The Friends work with others who share its general aims and those of the Trust, for example the Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society and Canterbury Young Archaeologists’ Club.

Read more about ...

How do I join?

  • Print this membership form and return to: FCAT Membership Secretary, c/o Canterbury Archaeological Trust, 92a Broad Street, Canterbury CT1 2LU



  • call in person to the Trust’s office at 92a Broad Street, CT1 2LU or telephone 01227 462062

We ask for an annual donation of £20 (more if possible!). This covers either an individual or a household based on one address. Communication to a household will be to a named individual and each household will receive one copy of each newsletter and Annual Review. Other members of the household will be eligible for concessionary rates for talks and other purposes advertised from time.

If you are a full-time student or in receipt of JSA or ESA we suggest an annual donation of £10 for individual membership.

Anyone interested in life membership should contact our Membership Secretary: memsecFCAT@canterburytrust.co.uk

The Friends endeavour to ensure that as much of the donation as possible goes towards supporting the work of the Trust.

Talks & events

FCAT lectures with CKHH

Thursday 13 September, 7pm, Newton Ng07, CCCU
Pigs in Medieval Kent
Sheila Sweetinburgh
This talk will explore pig farming in medieval Kent, from the possible use of temporary settlements and extensive management within the system of dens, to more intensive stall kept pigs, as seen in the manorial demesne records. However, pigs for medieval people were far more than just farm animals, and this talk will consider the role of the symbolic pig in the Middle Ages.

Thursday 18 October, 7pm, Newton Ng07, CCCU
Finds at CAT: Amazing things and what to do with them!
Andrew Richardson
This talk will provide an overview of finds work at CAT, including past and future approaches to their study and care, and the thorny issue of their long-term future. The talk will also highlight some of the more significant finds dealt with by the Trust over the past four decades.

Thursday 29 November, 7pm, Newton Ng07, CCCU
Old Park Hill, Dover: the mystery of a lost Anglo-Saxon cemetery solved
Keith Parfitt
During research carried out for the Trust’s monograph on the 1994 excavations at Buckland, it became apparent that the cemetery was one of several, all situated along the sides of the Dour valley. One of these was Old Park Hill, but with finds made in the nineteenth century being very vaguely recorded, its exact location was unclear. Trust excavations in 2017 finally solved the mystery, revealing over 40 graves in the grounds of ‘Woodside’ on the edge of Old Park Hill.

Other events

Canterbury Archaeological Trust Archaeology courses
Saturday 22 September, CAT Library, 92A Broad Street
First Steps in Archaeology
One-day course. Fee £45 (£40, FCAT). Tutor: Andrew Richardson
Booking and more details here

Centre for Kent History and Heritage
Michael Nightingale Memorial 7th Annual Lecture
Tuesday 25 September, 7pm Og46, Michael Berry Lecture Theatre, CCCU
(wine reception from 6.30pm)
The Map as Biography: Maps, Memory and the Kent Landscape
Professor Peter Vujakovic
J B Harley wrote his essay ‘The Map as Biography’ three decades ago. While one of his lesser known works, it remains a fresh and inspiring piece of writing. This lecture takes Harley’s essay as its starting point, to explore the speaker’s own engagement, as a teacher, researcher and resident, with the rich history of cartography and changing landscapes of East Kent, with a focus on Wye and its surroundings.
All welcome and the lecture is free. Voluntary retiring collection.

Canterbury Archaeological Trust Archaeology courses
Saturday 29 September, CAT Library, 92A Broad Street
Prehistoric Kent
One-day course. Fee £45 (£40, FCAT). Tutor: Jake Weekes
Booking and more details here

Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society
Wednesday 10 October, 7pm, Newton Ng03, CCCU
Thirteenth-century Canterbury: a charger, a seal and a gate
Mary Berg, historian. The William Urry Memorial Lecture

Canterbury Archaeological Trust Archaeology courses
Saturday 13 October, CAT Library, 92A Broad Street
A crash course in Roman Britain
One-day course. Fee £45 (£40, FCAT). Tutor: Jake Weekes
Booking and more details here

Canterbury Archaeological Trust Archaeology courses
Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October, CAT Library, 92A Broad Street
A basic introduction to animal bone
Two-day course. Fee £80 (£75, FCAT). Tutors: Enid Allison and Åsa Pehrson
Booking and more details here

CCCU Public lecture
Tuesday 30 October, 6.00-7.00pm. Augustine Hall
Michael Wood
The title of this lecture is not confirmed at time of going to press. Originally arranged to coincide with the British Library exhibition ‘Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms’ (19 October 2018 – 19 February 2019), this promises to be an interesting evening.

Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society
Wednesday 14 November, 7 pm, Newton Ng03, CCCU
Women and Chivalry
Louise Wilkinson, CCCU

Canterbury Archaeological Trust Archaeology courses
Saturday 24 November, CAT Library, 92A Broad Street
Exploring the Medieval and Early Tudor Cinque Ports
One-day course. Fee £45 (£40 FCAT). Tutor: Sheila Sweetinburgh
Booking and more details here

For all events which do not have a stated charge, FCAT requests a donation of £2.00 for members and £3.00 for non-members to cover costs and to help to support the activities of the Trust. Registered students and CAT staff are very welcome to attend without charge.

Excursions organised by FCAT: Members and guests participate in excursions at their own risk. FCAT does not accept responsibility for any loss or injury. Excursions involve walking in the open and negotiating steps and stairs both externally and within buildings. Appropriate footwear and clothing should always be worn.

FCAT welcomes participation in its excursions by members and guests with impaired mobility, provided that they are accompanied by a person who can act as a helper. It is advisable to check in advance with the Excursion Leader or the Excursions Secretary to establish whether access problems are anticipated on a specific trip.

Reminders for events and visits to excavations: FRIENDS who are interested in receiving reminders about events and activities between Newsletters, are asked to leave their email address here: friends@canterburytrust.co.uk. Your address will not be passed on to other organisations. If you do not have email, leave a stamped addressed envelope at the Trust for notification of excavation site visits at short notice.

Contact us

General Enquiries

FCAT c/o Canterbury Archaeological Trust, 92a Broad Street, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2LU
01227 462062

Contact the principal officers of the Friends

Contact the Chair of the Friends: chairFCAT@canterburytrust.co.uk
Contact the Treasurer of the Friends: treasurerFCAT@canterburytrust.co.uk
Contact the Membership Secretary of the Friends: memsecFCAT@canterburytrust.co.uk

FCAT Officers and Committee

Chair: Dr John Williams MBE
Vice Chair: Professor Chris Bounds
Treasurer and Gift Aid Secretary: Mrs Marion Gurr
Membership Secretary: Mr David Sadtler
Minutes Secretary: Professor Chris Bounds
Publicity: Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh
Newsletter distribution: Mrs Michelle Whitham
Canterbury Walks Organisation: Dr Doreen Rosman
Mrs Sue Chambers
Mr Martin Pratt
Dr David Shaw
Dr Anthony Ward
Dr Eleanor Williams

FCAT Newsletters

  FCAT Newsletter 106 FCAT Newsletter 105 FCAT Newsletter 104 FCAT Newsletter 103 FCAT Newsletter 102
107 Winter 2018 106 Summer 2018 105 Spring 2018 104 Winter 2017 103 Summer 2017 102 Spring 2017
FCAT Newsletter 101 FCAT Newsletter 100 FCAT Newsletter 99 FCAT Newsletter 98 FCAT Newsletter 97 FCAT Newsletter 96
101 Winter 2016 100 Summer 2016 99 Spring 2016 98 Winter 2015 97 Summer 2015 96 Spring 2015
FCAT Newsletter 95 FCAT Newsletter 94 FCAT Newsletter 93 FCAT Newsletter 92 FCAT Newsletter 91 FCAT Newsletter 90
95 Winter 2014 94 Summer 2014 93 Spring 2014 92 Winter 2013 91 Summer 2013 90 Spring 2013
FCAT Newsletter 89 FCAT Newsletter 88 FCAT Newsletter 87 FCAT Newsletter 86 FCAT Newsletter 85 FCAT Newsletter 84
89 Winter 2012 88 Summer 2012 87 Spring 2012 86 Winter 2011 85 Summer 2011 84 Spring 2011
FCAT Newsletter 83 FCAT Newsletter 82 FCAT Newsletter 81 FCAT Newsletter 80 FCAT Newsletter 79 FCAT Newsletter 78
83 Winter 2010 82 Summer 2010 81 Spring 2010 80 Winter 2009 79 Summer 2009 78 Spring 2009

Early days

The following accounts of the how the Friends came about and a pivotal fundraising initiative - The Shop - were written by Lawrence and Marjorie Lyle respectively. Both first appeared in the review of the Trust's first 40 years, published to accompany an exhibition celebrating the same event, and which was stewarded by the Friends.

The Friends were founded in 1984 as a result of the financial crisis which nearly sank the small, struggling unit. The Archbishop, the Lord Mayor and the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent wrote a letter to The Times and Donald Baron launched the Friends of which he became Chairman and Hon Treasurer. A month later, 300 Friends had been signed up: numbers have hovered just below 400 for most of our history.

Donald Baron
Early Newsletters
The Trust's first computer

During its first two years the Friends gave £19,000 to save the Trust, involving fundraising activities and social events; the Dean hosted two sherry parties, Peggy Hayes organised a buffet lunch and auction of antiques donated by members. Marjorie Lyle ran Heritage week-ends for three years in association with the Chaucer Hotel. Donald was tireless in running the Friends and helping the Trust. He resigned in 1986 and I took over the Chairmanship. When he died soon afterwards, Donald Baron Bursaries were set up to which, among others, his widow Desirée has contributed generously ever since. The fund has enabled many staff members to attend courses and conferences at some of which they have delivered important papers.

Norman Smith became Chairman in 2004 and four years later Dr David Shaw took over, later adding Chairman of the Management Committee to his responsibilities. In 2015 he was succeeded by Dr Anthony Ward. For many years the Friends’ finances were in the safe hands of Roger Sharp. John Parsons, a loyal Friend, bequeathed his library and house to the Trust. The sale of the latter enabled central heating to be installed in 92a Broad Street.

Canterbury Festival walks, run for fifteen years by Meriel Connor and now by Doreen Rosman, have generated increasing revenue, now running at about £1,900 a year.

Short breaks in historic places from Exeter to the Orkneys were organised by Laurence Fisher and then Anne Vine and Meriel Connor. Day excursions to London museums and major exhibitions were run originally at £4 a head; coach hire is now almost prohibitive. However, local visits to important excavations (such as Sittingbourne, Thanet Earth, Ringlemere and Folkestone) continue. We have followed the many stages of the Dover Bronze Age Boat project from its discovery to the launch of its replica with increasing admiration.

From the first a Newsletter every four months has kept Friends in touch with the Trust. With advancing technology these have developed from a cyclo-styled sheet to full-colour booklets. The next issue will be No 100. Local Friends save postage by delivering Newsletters and Annual Reports.

Practical help at digs, such as pot-washing, sales and publicity started at the Marlowe site and continued at Northgate and the Longmarket where a viewing platform was built. At the Whitefriars Big Dig the Friends staffed the shop, exhibition and walkway for three years, seven days a week from 10 am to 4 pm, enabling visitors and school parties to receive up-to-date information. After briefing us the archaeologists could work uninterrupted.

Apart from help pot-washing, assisting in the environmental department and with other practical tasks, Friends have bought equipment ranging from a paper guillotine to GPS equipment costing £12,000. We have bought cameras and equipment for a dark room, several early computers and ancillary kit and a second-hand Land Rover. Support was given towards the re-roofing of the Finds Department, the installation of safety equipment and fire alarms. Several publications were subsidised and books and journals bought for the Library.

Our grants have helped the flourishing Education Department.

The Friends are proud of their share in saving the Trust in the 1980s, impressed by its major digs and publication record and pleased to give it financial and moral support as it faces difficult years ahead.

Lawrence Lyle, Chairman 1986–2004

The shop

My motivation in looking for a charity shop was the answer I received late in 1983 from Dame Jennifer Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust. At my request she had consulted Lord Montague, head of English Heritage: they concluded that the Trust should urgently find alternative funding for the current crisis and to plug future gaps in state provision, likely to diminish. Three people were crucial to the shop project. Mrs Blades, manager of the Hospice Shop in Canterbury advised me to buy a freehold, corner property near the centre. Then, the manager of the National Westminster Bank, dubious about the Trust’s survival, agreed to lend me £30,000 until the next election if I found £10,000 elsewhere and proved that I could repay it at least £1,000 a month minimum. Cllr Jim Nock, then leader of the City Council, offered an interest-free City loan of £10,000.

The premises shown on a city estates plan of 1828–9, with the Northgate on the left
Shop premises in 1987
Marjorie Lyle

No 72 Northgate, a florist’s corner shop, with living accommodation above, was for sale at £38,000 odd and this the Management Committee allowed me to purchase on these terms. Amazingly, the Trust workforce, my family and the Friends of the Trust set to work so that we were able to open the shop in April 1984 with four students in converted rooms above. The Friends supplied every single item of furniture, bedding, pots and pans right down to everything except the light bulbs. For example, the wife of the retiring Governor of Dover Castle obtained sufficient ex-WD carpeting for the whole upstairs while Peggy Hayes acquired a cash register and carried through the streets a naked female mannequin for the shop window which she dressed every week for eight years. The Friends filled the rota for staffing the shop, turning up loyally in all weathers until 1992. I always had some misgivings about competing with charity shops for the homeless, needy and dying and so devised ‘Roundabout’, a children’s commission shop. Good quality children’s clothes and equipment gave the donors one-third of the price when sold to our needier customers. In addition, we stocked Trust books, mugs and diaries. Our ‘catchment area’ eventually extended from Thanet to Faversham. At this stage I was able to pay a small wage to two disabled helpers.

In 21 months we repaid £35,000 from sales and rents at more than our monthly pledge; the city council’s loan a year later. Thereafter we were able to supply between £12,000 and £15,000 towards the running costs of the Trust. But, by 1992, vandalism, graffiti, shop-lifting and drunken visitors and the ageing of our wonderful volunteers provoked a change. The shop was sub-let, I continued to run the student flats for two more years when our listed building required a new roof and it was time to sell. A few weeks later Frank Panton, Chairman of the Management Committee, wrote to me that the Shop had eventually raised over a quarter of a million pounds for the Trust.

Marjorie Lyle


“We don't only drink tea” First published in Newsletter 102, Spring 2017

The Trust offers various opportunities for FCAT members and others to volunteer their time and skills in support of its work. Opportunities arise with regard to specific projects, for example the stewarding of the month long exhibition in the Spring of 2016 at the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge marking the 40th anniversary of the Trust. The contribution of the stewards was highly praised – and indeed the exhibition could not have been presented in its successful format with cases of valuable artefacts complementing display panels without the presence, seven days a week over four weeks, of the reliable stewards drawn from the ranks of the Friends.

Other opportunities for volunteering are firmly embedded in the ongoing operations of the Trust, for example the organisation of the library, a collection of over 8,000 items. Jane Blackham, a long standing Friend, has for several years helped curate the collection bringing her experience working in the Library at Canterbury Christ Church University to the cataloguing of new acquisitions and maintaining the good order of the shelves. Jane has assisted Trust Research Manager Jake Weekes reorganise the library better to meet the needs of Trust staff and other users. In addition to books and periodicals the library had until recently contained much ‘grey literature’ - reports of watching briefs, evaluation excavations, and desk-based site assessments for planning purposes, all work which would not usually be published, but which represents a rich corpus of data. Volunteer Andy Ashenhurst has scanned this large collection making electronic copies which, according to Jake, form the bedrock of an on-line gazetteer of the work of the Trust. The important gazetteer will shortly ‘go-live’ for public interest and research purposes. Jake is clear that improvements to the management of the library and the accessibility of its material could not have been achieved without the support of those who freely give of their time.

Nowhere is the ethos of volunteering more firmly embedded than in the Finds Department which is responsible for the initial processing of artefacts, all the stone, flints, pottery, metalwork, bone (human and animal), recovered each year through work in the field. Finds Supervisor Jacqui Matthews explains that the team of around 30 regulars who volunteer each week is vital to the initial stage of post-excavation activity: preparatory drying, washing and cleaning, categorising, and packaging.

FCAT member sorts a residue
The Finds Supervisor with some of her volunteers
A bone die, recently found by a volunteer while dry-sorting samples from Dover

This triage is carried out with meticulous attention to record keeping. Jacqui enters up the detail on the Integrated Archaeological Data Base created for each fieldwork project and the material can then be subjected to close analysis by specialists within and beyond the Trust. The information produced is critical to the interpretation of excavations. Volunteering in the Finds Department brings huge benefits to the Trust helping projects to be completed to time and within budget.

Finds volunteers include both students, gaining practical work experience, and others with a general interest in archaeology. Some have been helping over two decades. Long-serving volunteer and Friend Marion Gurr explains that the highly tactile work provides a very special opportunity to engage with past humanity while its variety encourages individuals to develop particular interests and expertise. “We don’t only drink tea” remarked Marion wryly, recalling sessions spent excavating cremation deposits within funerary urns or piecing together the fragments of eighteenth-century tankards recovered from the former George and Dragon Tavern unearthed in advance of the building of an extension to the Beaney.

Volunteers are also of fundamental importance in our environmental department. Trust Environmental Specialist Enid Allison currently relies on a loyal group of people to painstakingly sort through the huge amounts of ‘heavy residue’ resulting from the sieving of soil samples from all our major excavations. Bones of fish, amphibians, birds and small mammals, and shells of all kinds are extracted, along with metalworking waste and small artefacts such as pins and beads that would be unlikely to be recovered by hand-excavation. Over the years they really have sorted through tonnes of material. Volunteers are currently engaged in retrieving tens of thousands of fish bones from samples from the recent excavations in Dover. Other tasks might be measuring oyster shells, checking sample flots for plant remains such as cereals and pulses, and entering data on the IADB.

Canterbury Archaeological Trust is also an active partner in many community based projects around Kent which rely on the support of volunteers. If you would like to explore the possibility of volunteering at the Trust, please do get in touch. Call Jacqui Matthews on 01227 825274 or email her at jacqui.matthews@canterburytrust.co.uk.

How the Friends support the Trust financially

Since the foundation of the Friends in 1984, fundraising and the donations of individual members have contributed many hundreds of thousands of pounds to support the work of the Trust. The Friends’ charity shop alone raised over a quarter of a million pounds during its period of operation between 1984 and 1992.

Friends’ funding has supported the Trust in many, many ways. It has helped amongst other things with building maintenance and refurbishment; the purchase of computers and software, survey, laboratory and photographic equipment; vehicles for fieldwork and support for community excavations; library resources, educational and exhibition materials; publication; and even a burglar alarm!

Trust Director, Professor Paul Bennett, comments ‘Over many years in the later 1980s financial support from the Friends was key to the Trust’s very survival. Since those very challenging days grants from the Friends have significantly assisted the Trust develop the infrastructure and resources which make it one of the foremost archaeological units in the country. It now records and conserves the archaeology of its region and beyond, discharging its charitable purposes by disseminating the results of its work regionally, nationally and indeed internationally, both to its own community and wider scholarly audiences.’

The Friends also administer the Donald Barron Fund generously established by Desiree Barron in memory of her husband who was pivotal in setting up the Friends. The fund is dedicated to promoting the personal and professional development of Trust staff. Each year income from the fund, supplemented by the resources from the Friends, provide bursaries which allow staff to attend training events, courses and conferences, in the UK and abroad. Examples can be found in reports published in the Friends newsletters – see recent issues.