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
Help with educational activities
Work on site
Process finds and environmental evidence from excavations
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
email a request for a membership form providing your address to
call in person to the Trust’s office at 92a Broad Street, CT1 2LU
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:
The Friends endeavour to ensure that as much of the donation as possible goes towards supporting the work of the Trust.
FCAT lectures with the Centre for Kent History and Heritage
It is presently anticipated that the autumn talks will be by Zoom. If it is possible to hold any live talks we will email Friends and also post on this page.
Thursday 30 September 2021, 7pm, online using Zoom
Assembling the dead in the lands of the living: the ‘Medway megaliths’ in context.
The unique group of megalithic monuments in the Medway valley in Kent includes some of the earliest built structures with surviving architectural features in the British Isles (41st–35th century BCE). It’s now clear, especially as a result of the Medway Valley Prehistoric Landscapes Project and High Speed 1 fieldwork, that previous interpretations of these sites are no longer tenable. The megalithic structures are far more diverse and complex than once assumed, and their purposes and meanings for local and wider communities varied and changed over time. This talk will review the evidence, contextualise the Medway ‘tombs’ in their cultural landscape settings, and explore their significance in relation to current interpretations of the first farming societies in Britain and beyond.
Paul Garwood is Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Birmingham, specialising in European Neolithic and Bronze Age studies with particular interests in funerary ritual monuments and landscape. His career spans both the commercial and academic sectors, including 20 years as a field archaeologist and consultant working for organisations such as the Museum of London, English Heritage, and Oxford Archaeology. He was Lecturer in Archaeology & Anthropology at Keble College, Oxford for five years and held a one-year Lectureship in Archaeology at the University of Oxford, before appointment as Lecturer in Prehistory at Birmingham in 1999. His recent projects include surveys of the prehistory of the West Midlands, High Speed 1, and South-East England, and he is director of several large-scale field projects, including Medway Valley Prehistoric Landscapes, Trent Valley Neolithic Enclosures, and Stonehenge Landscapes EMI.
The Zoom link for the talk is:
Meeting ID: 841 4114 8720
Thursday 4 November 2021, 7pm, online using Zoom
Hunting for a port, churches, and the wider historic landscape: community archaeology for the ‘Fifth Continent Project’.
The talk will reflect on the range of community archaeology activities undertaken as part of the Fifth Continent Project on Romney Marsh. Work began in mid-2018 and after a successful year and a half of engagement, 2020 saw us rise to the challenges of running activities through a pandemic. There were three strands to the heritage projects: the Hunt for Romney Port, the Sentinels on the Marsh and a landscape and geomorphology project. This talk will highlight some of the work undertaken and examine what the results tell us about the ever-changing Marsh landscape.
Andrew Mayfield works as a community archaeologist for both Kent County Council, with projects running out of Shorne Woods Country Park and on Sevenoaks Commons, and for the Royal Parks at Greenwich Park, in a new role for the Greenwich Park Revealed project.
Thursday 2 December 2021, 7pm, online using Zoom
Anglo-Saxon sculpture – What does it mean, and what next?
Iconic individual monuments, such as the Bewcastle and Gosforth crosses, the Hedda Stone at Peterborough or, here in Kent, the Reculver shaft, have long been studied as outstanding artefacts of the early Christian era in England. In 1980 Rosemary Cramp initiated a project to identify, catalogue and publish all pre-Norman Conquest stone sculpture in England in a series of multi-authored county and regional volumes – The British Academy’s Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture for England. This long-running cooperative research endeavour is now nearing its completion, with thirteen volumes having been published and a final three all in active preparation. How has it progressed? How has it changed over a lifetime of scholarly efforts? Is the result an end or only a beginning?
Paul Everson is an archaeologist with particular expertise in field survey, landscape history and its meaning and significance. He has published on a diverse range of subjects from settlement morphology and its evolution to gardens and gunpowder production. He retired in 2006 after a career in the former Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England and English Heritage and continues to research and write on topics that interest him. His long-standing collaboration with David Stocker has produced three volumes in the Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture series: Lincolnshire (1999), Nottinghamshire (2015), and Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, which is currently in the press; plus a string of related publications.
For all live 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 C·A·T 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Canterbury Festival Walks
16-30 October 2021
This year FCAT is offering more walks than ever before in the programme for the Canterbury Festival. Since it is impossible to know what social-distancing rules may be in force in October, we have decided to operate with smaller groups than in the past but to run a number of our walks twice. I am extremely grateful to friends who have so readily agreed to prepare and lead walks to raise funds for the Trust – and in a number of cases to repeat them. Smaller groups make it all the more important that you book for walks well in advance. This year the Festival will only allow advanced booking (so you will not be able to turn up on the day hoping to get a ticket). Full details of the walks and how to book can be found in the Festival programme, which will be published in July, but to whet your appetites here is a list of what we are offering.
Saturday 16 October: 10 a.m. Women of Canterbury
From Queen Bertha to Catherine Williamson, Canterbury’s first female mayor: find out about some famous, infamous, and forgotten local women.
Repeated Thursday 28 October 10 a.m.
Saturday 16 October: 2 p.m. The Village of Bridge
Roman soldiers, Canterbury pilgrims, race-course visitors, stage-coach travellers – the ancient Watling Street brought them all through Bridge.
Repeated Sunday 17 October 2 p.m.
Monday 18 October: 10 a.m. Canterbury and the Theatre
The cathedral archivist leads a city-centre walk, considering significant places, people, and events in the world of theatre from Canterbury’s past.
Repeated Friday 22 October 2 p.m.
Monday 18 October: 2 p.m. Folkestone History and Art
Explore an ancient port. See artworks from ‘Creative Folkestone Triennial’. Participants are encouraged to download the free VoxConnect app and bring earphones.
Repeated Tuesday 19 October 2 p.m.
Tuesday 19 October: 10 a.m. Religious Houses of Medieval Canterbury
The new Director of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust leads a walk around Canterbury, focusing on some of the city’s medieval religious establishments.
Repeated Friday 29 October 10 a.m.
Wednesday 20 October: 10 a.m. Canterbury Facades and Chimney Pots
What’s above eye level – or down back alleys? Look at things we often miss, especially Canterbury’s magnificent skyline of towers, gables, and crooked chimney stacks.
Repeated 2 p.m.
Thursday 21 October: 10 a.m. Archaeology and water
Join the cathedral archaeologist on a walk to and within the precincts, exploring different aspects of water in medieval times: its management, meaning, and movement.
Repeated 2 p.m.
Friday 22 October: 10 a.m. Everyday Life in Late Medieval Canterbury
Late medieval Canterbury was a vibrant city. This walk explores what is known about its inhabitants by looking at streets and marketplaces, houses and churches.
Repeated Friday 29 October 2 p.m.
Saturday 23 October: 10 a.m. ‘Strangers’ in Canterbury
Walloons, Flemings, and Huguenots sought sanctuary in Tudor and Stuart Canterbury. Find out about them, their descendants, and their new home.
Repeated Saturday 30 October 2 p.m.
Saturday 23 October: 2 p.m. The Geology of Herne Bay
A look at the geology of the cliffs between Herne Bay and Reculver.
Sunday 24 October: 10 a.m. A Geologist in the Cemetery
Find out about the different rocks used as memorial stones, including what they are and where they are from.
Sunday 24 October: 2 p.m. Exploring King’s School
Find out about the history and buildings of the King’s School on a walk around the cathedral precincts.
Monday 25 October: 10 a.m. Explore St Dunstans!
The final steps of the Pilgrim Way, an ancient church, site of the world’s first passenger railway – and much more.
Monday 25 October: 2 p.m. Romano-British Canterbury
What do we know about Canterbury’s early history? What survives from that time? An opportunity to find out in the company of an experienced archaeologist.
Repeated Thursday 28 October 2 p.m.
Tuesday 26 October: 10 a.m. A Walk around Jewish Canterbury
Explore the lives of Canterbury’s medieval Jews. See where their 18th and 19th century successors worked, worshipped, and were buried.
Repeated 2 p.m.
Wednesday 27 October: 10 a.m. Introductory Tour of the Dover Western Heights
Explore some of the most interesting parts of Dover’s Western fortifications, including a short low passage, with an experienced archaeologist. Moderately strenuous.
Wednesday 27 October: 2 p.m. A Literary Tour of the King’s School
An opportunity to see the Maugham Library and Hugh Walpole’s outstanding collection of English literary manuscripts.
Repeated 4 p.m.
Saturday 30 October: 10 a.m. A Walk in and about St Augustine’s College
A tour of the buildings of the former St Augustine’s College, now part of the King’s School.
FCAT c/o Canterbury Archaeological Trust, 92a Broad Street, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2LU
Telephone: 01227 462062
Contact the principal officers of the Friends:
Contact the Chair of the Friends: chairFCAT@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: Mrs Shiela Broomfield
Minutes Secretary: Professor Chris Bounds
Publicity: Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh
Newsletter distribution: Vacant
Festival Walks Organisation: Dr Doreen Rosman
Mrs Sue Chambers
Mr Martin Pratt
Dr David Shaw
Dr Anthony Ward
Dr Eleanor Williams
115 Summer 2021
114 Spring 2021
113 Winter 2020
112 Summer 2020
111 Spring 2020
110 Winter 2019
108 Spring 2019
103 Summer 2017
107 Winter 2018
102 Spring 2017
106 Summer 2018
101 Winter 2016
99 Spring 2016
98 Winter 2015
93 Spring 2014
97 Summer 2015
96 Spring 2015
92 Winter 2013
91 Summer 2013
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.
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
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.
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.
"We don't only drink tea"
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
2021 | Friends of Canterbury Archaeological Trust