About us

The HiFARs Committee

The HiFARS committee try to meet up regularly to discuss any ongoing archaeology projects and research being undertaken, raising money to fund digs, attending local community events, and to provide interesting talks and visits for HiFARS members. Please email hifars@gmx.co.uk to contact the committee.

The Society has resources that can be accessed by HiFARS members for their own research purposes. We have a library of archaeology and history books and journals. Along with boxes of artefacts and learning materials for schools. The HIFARS archivist, Jenny Burt, will be happy to assist.

Olwen Mayes

Olwen founded HiFARS in July 2008. 

Rachel Smyth
Deputy Chair and Website Administrator

Rachel works in publishing and is a book designer by trade. After attending an evening class ‘An Introduction to Archaeology’ in Wellingborough she was advised by the tutor to find her local archaeology society. She met with Olwen in the Castle Field and found herself on the HiFARS committee before she had left the meeting.

Favourite find: a 1945 farthing

Pat Barber

Pat joined the HiFARS committee when she retired from her job as biomedical scientist and very soon became secretary of the society. She has been volunteering at local archaeological sites for the last 10 years, whenever she gets the opportunity, mainly at the Chester House excavations but also at Piddington Roman Villa, and various sites in Higham Ferrers.

Favourite finds: a Roman Colchester-type brooch and a few Roman coins

Steve Morris
Archaeology Consultant

Coming soon ...

Mark Patenall
Finds Officer

Mark has worked on many archaeological sites all over Northamptonshire, and further afield in Cornwall and Wales. He now works at Wellingborough Museum and regularly field walks in the Nene Valley for flints. 

Favourite find: dinosaur bones from the Isle of Wight 

Jenny Burt

Jenny taught local history for the WEA, and helped set up the Northamptonshire Gardens Trust over 30 years ago. She researched the medieval planting for the Heritage Gardens at Stanwick Lakes and Chichele College in Higham Ferrers. Jenny is a member of Northamptonshire Records Society, Chair of the Library Committee, and joined HiFARS as archivist in 2013. 

Favourite find: Henry VI silver halfpenny.

Tom Duff

Tom has always been interested in history and archaeology. He has been actively involved in digging at Piddington Roman Villa for over twenty years and more recently at Chester House. He moved to Higham Ferrers in 2020 and now that Covid is not such a restriction he's getting involved locally with HiFARS. He works full time and volunteered to become HiFARS Treasurer in 2022.

Favourite find: the skeleton of a baby buried with reverence in the wall of an iron age roundhouse

Claire Chadbon
Committee member

Having retired to Northamptonshire Claire was looking for a new interest which would give her an insight into the local area and a chance to get involved in the community. She feels very lucky to have been part of the early excavations at Chester House unearthing Roman skeletons. She joined HiFARS in 2019.

Favourite find: a Roman skeleton

Angelika Meachen
Committee member

Angelika has been interested in archaeology since university days and in recent years she has visited various archaeological sites in Croatia and Italy. In 2018 she attended a HIFARS lecture on local excavations in Raunds and decided to join HIFARS the same evening. She has been involved in the excavation of the stable yard in the Duchy Barn Garden, since the project started in 2020.

Favourite find: a copper alloy furniture mount in the shape of a stag’s head 

Mary Garratt
Committee member

During a visit to Chichele College in 2019 Mary got chatting to Olwen who was excavating in the Duchy Barn Garden. Olwen explained the history of the site and feeling inspired Mary volunteered to help uncover the cobbled floor in the stable yard and joined HiFARS in the Autumn of 2020. She has also helped to uncover part of a Roman road at the Chester House Estate. 

Favourite find: 1930s enamel lampshade

Header image: Chichele College in 2013, owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and managed by English Heritage and Higham Tourism