Hifars 

past talks, AGms and lectures

HiFARS Spring Lecture 2024

David Ingham delivered the HiFARS Spring Lecture 'Cows and Crucixion: a remarkable Roman settlement at Fenstanton, Cambridgeshire' in the Bede House, Higham Ferrers on the afternoon of Sunday 14 April. David is a project manager at Albion Archaeology in Bedford, he also serves on various committees including UNAS, NVAT, CBASM and CBAEM, but kindly took the time to share this interesting excavation with HiFARS. If you missed the lecture you can still catch the documentary 'The Cambridgeshire Crucifixion' on BBC iplayer.

Image: Heel and nail (photo Albion Archaeology).

HiFARS Christmas Lecture 2023

HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, delivered the HiFARS Christmas Lecture 'In Search of Samian ware' on Sunday 10 December in the Bede House, Higham Ferrers. A ten year journey of discovery from the research she did on the original sherds of Roman pottery found in Kings Meadow Lane by Oxford Archaeology, to the place of origin in Lezoux, France, and the commissioning of replica pots made in the studio of Arnau Trullen Fernandez. The Samian ware was on display at the Discover Northamptonshire visitor hub at Rushden Lakes for 3 months in 2023/2024.

Image: Mary, Claire, Olwen, Angelika and Pat hold the original and replica Samian ware, moulds and stamps.

HiFARS Talk 2023

Osteoarchaeologist Dale Munn gave a talk on the evening of Friday 20 October in the Chantry Chapel, St. Mary's Churchyard in Higham Ferrers. He was assisted by HiFARS member Carol Pullen, who like Dale volunteers at the ARC, Chester House. The 2023 AGM was due to take place on the same night but was postponed until the HiFARS Christmas Lecture in December.

Image: Dale Munn and educational skeleton in the Chantry Chapel

HiFARS Talks in Summer 2023

Paul Smith gave a talk at Chichele College on the evening of Thursday 6 July on his and Ruth Maddison's research into the Iron Age and Romano-British potters of Rushden. HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, gave a talk to the Rotary Club of Rushden on Wednesday 13 September.

Image: Paul Smith and Ruth Maddison in Chichele Garden

HiFARS Christmas Lecture 2022

The postponed HiFARS Christmas Lecture 2022 was held on 29 January 2023 in the Bede House, Higham Ferrers. Richard Robinson recalled his childhood at the Walnut Tree Duchy Farm and the barns and stables at Chichele College. Richard's father Harry Eady Robinson was a champion breeder of Shire horses. There were stories of tractors ending up in the River Nene and secret visits by Queen Elizabeth II to inspect the horses.

Image: Richard with Jenny and Olwen in the Bede House

HiFARS Talks in 2022

The first HiFARS talk post Covid lockdowns was by HiFARS member Mary Garratt in Chichele College on Tuesday 23 September. Mary talked about a recent walking holiday along the Welsh border and an archaeological dig near the coast. On Tuesday 18 October Derek Blunt gave a talk on the parish churches of Northamptonshire called 'Summoned by Bells' in the Bede House. The HiFARS AGM 2022 was held in the Bede House on Saturday 12th November where Mike Luke gave the talk 'Life as an Archaeologist: from Sussex to Sharnbrook'.

Image: Derek Blunt in the Bede House

HiFARS Talks in 2019 and 2020

In January 2019 HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, spoke about her research into the history of the houses in College Street, and in April Andy Chapman gave a talk about ‘Northampton before the Castle’. Historian Colin Ray gave talks on ‘The Castles of England and Wales’ in February, ‘Dovecotes’ in June, and ‘From the Manor to Modern’ and the evolution of domestic buildings on Saturday 2 November 2019 at the HiFARS AGM. In March 2020 HiFARS member Pat Hall gave an illustrated talk on Leptis Magna, the well-preserved Roman site on the Mediterranean, and this was the last HiFARS talk before the Covid lockdowns. 

Image: Leptis Magna in modern-day Libya

HiFARS Christmas LectureDecember 2018 

Louise Bush, senior project manage for Oxford Archaeology East, delivered the HiFARS Christmas Lecture 2018 in the Bede House on Sunday 9 December. It was so interesting to hear about archaeology on a grand scale at the 12 hectare site at Warth Park in Raunds. Louise went through the preliminary findings, from the Early Neolithic including the ‘Cotton Henge’, to Anglo Saxon times, and she brought some of the amazing artefacts along with her. The lecture was followed by a Q&A session and seasonal refreshments. Go to oxfordarchaeology.com for more information about their work in East Northamptonshire.

Image: Louise Bush

HiFARS AGM and TalkNovember 2018

On Sunday 11 November HiFARS Chair Olwen Mayes gave a quick round up of the year along with all the official committee business, and then it was straight onto Andy Chapman’s talk about The Settlers of the Nene Valley, five thousand years of fascinating history in an hour. There was a raffle, refreshments and an atmospheric log fire to round off a lovely Autumn afternoon in the Bede House in Higham Ferrers.

Image: Andy and Pat by the Bede House fireplace 

HiFARS Talks in 2018

There were two HiFARS talks in March 2018. HiFARS Chair Olwen Mayes spoke about the medieval court rolls of Higham Ferrers on Tuesday 27 March and Ron Clayton of Finedon History Society shared his historical research about The Volta Tower on Thursday 8 March. HiFARS also held a well-attended Finds Evening on Thursday 25 February. Olwen Mayes gave a round-up of HiFARS news and Loyd Wix brought along some interesting finds from Colworth Archeological Society. 

Image: Christine examines a fossilised sponge 

HiFARS Christmas Lecture • December 2017

Michael Brown (the historic gardener) gave an account of a Medieval Christmas in the atmospheric surroundings of the Bede House on Friday 29 December. There were interesting stories and explanations of Christmas traditions along with music and song. Refreshments included traditional ginger bread made to an authentic recipe. 

Image: Medieval songs in the Bede House at Christmas 

HiFARS AGM and Talk • October 2017

The HiFARS AGM was held in the Bede House on the evening of Saturday 30 October. Dr Paul Stamper gave a great talk about The First Home Front: England’s First World War Heritage. He explored what’s left of the huge infrastructure created to support the war effort – the armaments factories, coastal defences, airfields and POW camps. 

Image: Dr Paul Stamper 

HiFARS Christmas LectureDecember 2016

On Sunday 18 December Professor Carenza Lewis of the University of Lincoln and TV’s Time Team gave the Christmas Lecture in the Bede House on Plague Pits: New Evidence for the Impact of the Black Death. The Black Death killed millions as it swept across medieval Europe and Asia. Her research involved a ten year programme of 2,000 archaelogical excavations in eastern England and has produced new evidence about the impact of the disease on the population of the country. 

Image: Carenza Lewis

HiFARS AGM and TalkOctober 2016

On Saturday 29 October Mathew Morris of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services gave a great talk on Richard III: the King under the Car Park – the search for the Grey Friars Church, medieval Leicester, the excavation and the science behind the identification of the skeleton. Mathew came back to Higham on 10 July 2017 to give another HiFARS talk on Revealing Grey Friars, the excavation of the Franciscan friary in Leicester where Richard III was found. 

Image: Mathew Morris

HiFARS Talks in 2016

On Monday 22 February Olwen gave a talk on her research into Saxon meeting places in Higham Ferrers, such as the Walnut Tree at the top of Kings Meadow Lane. On Tuesday 19 April Andy Chapman gave a talk about West Cotton Medieval Village in the Sports Pavilion. Olwen gave two talks herself, to the Hallaton Field Walkers on 7 March and the Chichele Society on 18 March. On Thursday 21 July Ian Meadows gave a talk 'Romans in the Orchard', an update from the Chester House excavations.


Image: The Walnut Tree in 2017

HiFARS Christmas Lecture 2015

The postponed Christmas Lecture was held in the Bede House on Sunday 31 January 2016. Nick Hill of Historic England talked about Medieval Houses in East Leicestershire and Rutland, and our own Bede House got a mention. On Saturday 27 February some members travelled to St Andrews Church in Lyddington for the launch of Nick’s book Buildings and People of a Rutland Manor. 

Image: Nick Hill signing his book for Alina at Lyddington

HiFARS AGM and Talk • October 2015

The AGM was held on the evening of Saturday 24 October in the Sports pavilion, Higham Ferrers Recreation Ground. The Chair thanks retiring treasurer Kathie Dunn for all her hard work on the committee. Andy Chapman, Senior Project Manager at MOLA Northampton gave a talk about Looking for T-rex in the Hell Creek Badlands of Montana and Finds Officer Mark Patenall provided an accompanying display of dinosaur fossils. 

Image: Andy and family with a T-rex

HiFARS Talk: Richard III and the Greyfriars Dig

Sally Henshaw of the Leicester branch of the Richard III Society spoke to a full house in Chichele College on Tuesday 2 June 2015. Richard III was the last Plantagenet warrior king, killed aged 32 at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 and who lay in an unknown grave for over 500 years. The talk covered the search, discovery, excavation and identity verification of the ‘skeleton under the car park’. Earlier in the year, on Wednesday 25 March, HiFARS member Nola made the trip to Leicester to visit the Cathedral and the new Visitor Heritage Centre erected on the site of Greyfriars. 

Image: Tomb of Richard III in 2015

HiFARS talks in 2015

Olwen gave an update on her research into the history of A Duchy Cottage in College Street on Thursday 26 March, she also hosted a town tour exploring the water courses on the evening of Thursday 23 April. Mark gave a talk on his extensive collection of flints on Friday 23 January. 

Image: Mark with pint and flint

HiFARS Christmas Lecture • December 2014

Paul Blinkhorn, Anglo Saxon and Medieval pottery specialist, gave a great talk on The Relationship Between Archaeology and the Media on Sunday 7 December in the Bede House. 

Image: Paul Blinkhorn and Olwen

HiFARS Talk: Irthlingborough and the Battle of Waterloo film

Historian Roy York from the Irthlingborough History Society gave a talk in the Bede House on the evening of Friday 31 January 2014 about the film The Battle of Waterloo, the ‘first British epic film’, directed by Charles Weston, and filmed in Irthlingborough over 100 years ago. A twenty minute clip of the film was shown, along with a parody of the film made shortly after the original called The Adventures of Pimple. 

Image: Phil and Roy of the Irthlingborough History Society

HiFARS Christmas meeting • December 2013

The HiFARS Christmas meeting was held in the Carriage House, Higham Ferrers on Sunday 15 December. HiFARS Chair, Olwen Mayes, gave an overview of the year and members took the opportunity to renew their subs at a discounted rate. 

Image: Olwen examines some of the pottery sherds donated to the society

HiFARS Christmas Lecture • December 2012

On Sunday 9 December 2012 Malcolm Deacon gave a talk on Sir Christopher Hatton in the Bede House, Higham Ferrers. Sir Christopher Hatton was born in Northamptonshire in 1540, was Lord Chancellor of England and a favourite of Elizabeth I. Hatton represented Higham Ferrers in Parliament in 1571, and he was one of the judges to find Mary, Queen of Scots guilty of treason. 

Image: Sir Christopher Hatton on the cover of Malcolm’s book