TAS HAPPY NEW YEAR | Membership Reminder and News Update

Dear TAS Members and Friends,


On behalf of the TEESSIDE Archaeological Society Committee, I hope you all had a warm and relaxing Christmas break. Last year was a great one for TAS — the lecture programme with a bonus slot and many finds-handling opportunities, increasing membership, the CSI forensics event by TAS Secretary Dave Errickson at Teesside University, a heritage planning process workshop in Durham with our friends at AASDN (the “Arch and Archs” of Durham & Northumberland) and CBA North, plus the many fantastic discoveries around our region.

TAS MembershipNow is the time to renew your membership, or join TAS for an eventful 2015. Please download the 2015 Membership Application Form and either post it with a cheque or postal order — note the new address on the form — or bring it along to the AGM on Tuesday 27 January at 7pm (half an hour earlier than usual to give us plenty of time) at Stockton Central Library. Check our website for directions to the library if this will be your first visit. We look forward to seeing you!

IMPORTANT | We can only receive subscriptions with a completed application form. Cheques will be processed after the AGM. And sorry folks: payment by BACs, Paypal or Credit/Debit Card is not currently possible due to high transaction fees and security issues.

Ahead of the AGM we’ll be posting the agenda to all 2014 and 2015 members and hopefully we’ll have the 2015 Programme ready too (see below). 2015 Membership Cards will be distributed at the February lecture and by post if you can’t collect.

TAS 2015 PROGRAMME TASTER! Dates for your diary

All lectures begin at 7.30pm unless stated otherwise. Lecture titles are not yet finalised.

Tue 27 Jan 7.00pm for 7.30 | TAS AGM and Members’ Evening | Lecture: Dr Tim Thompson, Teesside University, “CSI Forensics” | SPECIAL FEATURE! The infamous TAS Christmas Cake courtesy of Mrs Carter senior
Tue 24 Feb | Dr David Petts, Durham University, “Roman Binchester Bling”
Tue 31 Mar | Lisa Westcott Wilkins & Brendon Wilkins, DigVentures, “Crowd-funded Archaeology”
Tue 21 Apr | Jim Brightman, Solstice Heritage, “Archaeology at Kiplin Hall” *NOT the last Tue due to UK Elections*
Tue 26 May | Dr Sarah Semple, Durham University, “Saxon Landscapes”
Tue 30 Jun | BONUS LECTURE! Dr Steve Sherlock, “A1 Archaeology Update”
Tue 29 Sep | Mitchell Pollington, AOC Archaeology Group, “Digging for Money – Commercial Archaeology”
Tue 27 Oct | Dr Carenza “TimeTeam” Lewis, Cambridge University, “Community Archaeology”
Tue 24 Nov | Phil Abramson & Steve Sherlock, “Operation Nightingale Catterick & Cyprus”
Sat 05 Dec 10am Dorman Museum | ELGEE MEMORIAL LECTURE Prof Colin Haselgrove, Leicester University, “Iron Age Royal Centre at Stanwick”


Maureen Norrie, TAS Editor, and I are working on what looks like a truly bumper TAS BULLETIN, our annual journal for members. All being well, Number 19 (2014) should be available for collection at the AGM, otherwise we’ll post copies to 2014 and 2015 members. It will also be available as a password-protected downloadable version, as are our digitised back copies.

Similarly, the 2015 Lecture Programme is complete — again with a bonus lecture in June — and a number of hands-on finds handling opportunities. We’re just waiting for a few abstracts and pictures from the presenters before we get it printed and updated on our website and Facebook page. There will also be a lecture at the AGM after a rapid review of the year, our prospects and Committee elections.

On that note, we’re looking for a new TAS Treasurer to join the Committee since the incredible Mick Butler has been in the post for very many years now and travels around the globe a great deal with his work. Our finances are in good shape with the increase in membership through 2014. If you’re interested, and without a Treasurer we cannot operate, please email us at teesarchsoc.news@gmail.com

Remember  —  your membership is a commitment to our ongoing success as a community that cares passionately about our shared heritage, archaeology, advocacy and learning. Your subscription pays for the lecture venue, speakers’ travel, our public liability insurance and insurance for fieldwork, printing costs, postal mailing and the fantastic BULLETIN journal. TAS VALUE!


In November last year we re-launched the TAS BOOKSTALL thanks to help from new Committee Member Guy Forster, and your Chair donated a shed-load of Roman books with many more to come in January — all available to TAS members at bargain prices. There are a few collectors’ items in the boxes too! BOOKSTALL will be a feature at the end of each lecture, so why not peruse, pick up a bargain, or donate books you’ve already read?


TAS is proud to be an affiliate member of the Council for British Archaeology at a national level and also of the CBA North and CBA Yorkshire regions. Many of you will know about the vital work of the CBA over the last 70 years — lobbying, campaigning, training and advocating for our archaeology and heritage.

Click to download as a PDF.

To ensure the CBA has the resources to respond to the significant challenges now facing archaeology — despite it’s proven value to GDP, the economy, well-being and communities — they are running an appeal to raise an additional £250,000 each year for the next three years to support their important work

By investing in the future of the CBA now — as a member, donor friend, ambassador or lifetime member — you can help to provide a stable foundation so that they can continue to resource their vital campaigning and advocacy work, projects and programmes. With unprecedented cuts to the sector, ARCHAEOLOGY MATTERS more than ever, and for future generations too.

Together we can help to give future generations the opportunity for a lifetime of involvement in archaeology. Read more about the ARCHAEOLOGY MATTERS appeal and how you can contribute.

Lastly, I would like to offer personal thanks to all the TAS Committee members for outstanding help, ideas and legwork through 2014 — those new to, remaining on or standing down* from the Committee, and all generous with their own time as volunteers:

  • David Errickson, Secretary (integrating Membership role in 2015)
  • Mick Butler, Treasurer* (remains in post until new Treasurer is appointed)
  • Carole Tyson, Lecture Readiness & Hospitality
  • Maureen Norrie, Editor
  • Bruce Webb-Ireland, Fieldwork & Events
  • Edward Higgins, Membership Secretary*
  • Guy Forster, Bookstall
  • Robin Daniels, Tees Archaeology Liaison & River Tees Rediscovered HLF Landscape Partnership Project (ex officio)

Kind Regards,


Spencer Carter | TAS Chair & eCommunications

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questions, suggestions and news.

TAS NEWSFLASH | Roman Binchester at risk – please sign this e-petition


Dear TAS Members and Friends,

As many of you may already know from regional and national media coverage, the Church Commissioners are selling a number of plots in the Bishop Auckland area. Two of these, being sold separately, include the archaeological remains associated with the Roman fort and civilian settlement – now renowned for the spectacular discoveries made by the ongoing research project. Dr David Petts, Durham University, has distributed a call-to-action which follows.

The Auckland Castle Trust have not only placed a wholly reasonable bid of £2M but have also set up an online petition which takes a few seconds to complete using the link, below. Once you have signed, and you can add an optional comment too, please take a moment to share on Facebook and Twitter if you have an account. It’s easy using the share buttons on the Change.org petition page. Also feel free to forward this email far and wide. Many thanks.

Save Binchester Roman Fort

A message from Dr David Petts, Durham University

As many of you know, the Roman fort at Binchester, site of our fieldschool, has been put up for sale by its owners, the Church Commissioners. Worryingly, the site has been divided into separate lots. They owners are selling 10 lots of land (remains of the Bishop Auckland Estate) to the North and East of the town. These include Toft Hill Farm, Binchester Hall Farm, and the Bishop Auckland Golf Course (the old High Park). Two lots, Binchester Hall and Binchester Hall Farm bisect the Roman town more-or-less along the alignment of Dere Street. One lot includes Binchester Hall, the visitor car park, centre, and bath house. The other lot includes the remainder of the fort and is associated with the adjacent farm.

Worryingly, Binchester Hall has planning permission for development, which could affect public access to the Roman site. Additionally, if both lots fall to separate owners, any future access to the site, and research, would be at jeopardy.

Auckland Castle Trust have raised substantial funds to help save the fort for the nation, and work with Durham University and Durham County Council to alleviate the risk of development. However, we need for the offer to be accepted by the Church Commissioners. To help emphasise the level of local, regional and national support for this initiative, it would be great if you could raise your concerns with the Church Commissioners through our change.org petition, and helping us circulate this call via email and social media:

Images above | David Petts in the vicus bath house © Northern Echo; Pre-Constantinian Christian finger ring from 2014 Binchester excavations © Durham University.

Press and Media coverage

An assessment of the issues at stake can be read on this blog post, and in the media:

About the Binchester research programme

Information on the recent excavations led by Durham University, which are jeopardised by the proposed sale, can be found here:

Kind Regards,

Spencer Carter | TAS Chair & eCommunications

Header and footer images | Binchester excavations 2014 © S Carter.

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The Committee welcomes your feedback,
questions, suggestions and news.


TAS Volunteer Request : Tees Heritage at Risk

The Teesside Archaeological Society seeks volunteer on Middlesbrough electoral register to contact Council’s Planning Department for fact-finding

AcklamHallDear TAS Members and Friends,

We are seeking a volunteer, preferably a TAS member, who is on the electoral register in the Borough of Middlesbrough and who would be willing to write/email to the Planning Department, under guidance from TAS and the Council for British Archaeology. A request can be made directly (a Council response is usually required within a stated timeline) or under the Freedom Of Information Act (requiring a 20-day response).

  • See the video, below, about buildings already lost to development in Middlesbrough since the 1960s – it makes for depressing viewing. One could add medieval Eston Church in Redcar & Cleveland which was moved to Beamish Museum after years of stone theft (the vestry was stolen!), arson and unchecked vandalism.

The purpose is to request purely factual information about the nature of archaeological evaluations (and their results) that have taken place, or which are planned, in relation to development activities that are either approved/underway or in the application/appeals process. We note that where English Heritage have been involved, they tend to focus on the built heritage structures and not the archaeological landscape (pers comm).

The four focus areas are:

  • St Hilda’s, Middlesbrough
    MbroVulcanThe original location ‘over the border’ for Middlesbrough’s 19th century origins but with Early Medieval monastic forebears and evidence for prehistoric activity – noting the church was demolished and the whole area subject to development and social failure for many 20th-century generations (TAS Bulletin 11, 2006). A linear park development proposal along Vulcan Street is in an area where previous assessments have indicated that important archaeological assets remain (pers comm);
    Development plans include at least 8.1 hectares.
  • Acklam Hall
    Grade I Listed (header image) and cited in the Domesday book, Medieval landscape and natural environment assets all with a troubled recent history;
    56 executive homes and health hub, planning permissions granted early in 2013;
    Removal of 200 mature trees has already taken place (2014, pers comm and see videos, below);

    “A land’s worth should not always be measured in terms of commercial value, but by its value to communities.”

  • Coulby Newham, off Stainton Way
    Housing development almost complete to the west of Dixon’s Bank and Nunthorpe;
    There is (or was) an Iron Age/Romano-British settlement on Dixon’s Bank* very close to this development (Durham Archaeological Journal 12, 1996) and recent investigations at Fairy Dell (this year) have proven Medieval activity on ancient trods (tracks) through this landscape;
    Original residents’ campaign and petition against green-belt development was unsuccessful.
    *Similar Iron Age and Romano-British evidence seems to exist all around this area, largely obliterated by post-WWII and late 20th-century housing developments such as near Gypsy Lane, Nunthorpe and St Mary’s Church (1926, see below).
  • Grey Towers, Nunthorpe
    StMarysNunthorpe“New village” (295 executive homes) at Nunthorpe near Poole Hospital site;
    There is an Iron Age/Romano-British site under and around St Mary’s Church, literally across the Stokesley Road, and a Medieval landscape (monastic, perhaps a deserted medieval village) at Nunthorpe Village to the south, plus earlier prehistoric flint finds in the vicinity (NE Yorks Mesolithic Project & pers comms).

“The David Wilson homes project at Grey Towers Farm, Nunthorpe, was opposed by local campaigners but the scheme was given planning consent by Middlesbrough Council’s planning committee. A 3,000 signature petition was raised against the plan. Campaigners objected to greenfield land being used for housing instead of brownfield sites. They also feared it would have an adverse impact on infrastructure, such as congestion.”
Evening Gazette 06-Mar-2013 »

Image | © Copyright Mick Garratt and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

  • Are there more developments that you would include?


Since the Council’s withdrawal of funding from Tees Archaeology (the regional professional archaeology advisory and HER service), Middlesbrough Council’s planning process (in relation to the National Planning & Policy Framework − NPPF, and Historic Environment Record − HER maintenance) has not been publicly visible. By writing to the Council we aim to learn what archaeological and heritage-related activities they have been undertaking in areas of commercial and residential development. This is not about positioning, only about fact-gathering.

“In these very challenging times of austerity I think we all empathise with the many organisations − governmental or otherwise – who must make extremely difficult choices in the face of present and future constraints on their funding. However, heritage is a fragile and irreplaceable component of our shared environment, our sense of place, social well-being and economic success. It’s the role of organisations, such as TAS, regional and national, to persuade the decision-makers that Heritage and Archaeology can contribute real, tangible value across communities through footfall, tourism, inclusive participation and education. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.” — TAS Chair

Respect Middlesbrough’s Heritage | YouTube video 2:39 | Published 28-May-2014RespectMbroHer_Video

“Over the years Middlesbrough has lost some fantastic buildings. Everyone is in agreement that Local Government has been hit hard with cuts to their budget. However, I believe these buildings and conservation areas are regarded as a liability not an asset and are demolished or sold off when alternatives should be sought after to ensure these places are protected for future generations to enjoy. This collection of photographs shows buildings still very much talked about and missed by residents of Middlesbrough.”

Get in touch

If you are interested in writing to the Council, with support, please email teesarchsoc.news@gmail.com or telephone the Chair on zero-two-zero-eight 962 02 one-one.

TAS is an affiliate member of the Council for British Archaeology, CBA North and CBA Yorkshire.

Kind Regards,

Spencer Carter | TAS Chair & eCommunications

Disclaimer | While every effort has been made to provide accurate information, neither the writer nor TAS shall be responsible for any errors or consequential damages.

TAS ACTION | Reactions to NYCC Archaeology budget cuts

Page updated: 06-Mar-2014

Dear TAS Members and Friends,

Here are two recent reactions to the North Yorkshire County Council budget cuts that threaten Heritage, Archaeology and Environmental service provision. Remember, the cuts were agreed in February but have not yet been implemented. This is a chance to write to the Council, Councillors and MPs | see how you can help »

I think we all sympathise with the very difficult choices faced by Councils and Local Authorities in light of drastic reductions in central government funding. And yet archaeology and heritage play such a valuable role in community well-being, inclusive activities and an attractive proposition that draws in investment, footfall and tourism too. Heritage is a positive GDP earner, but is being disproportionately targeted.


“It really struck home to me in the CBA journal I have just received, how the lack of funding from central government to local government is having an impact on ‘Heritage’ services. As a recently retired local government officer, who was also a member of my own employers ‘friends’ archaeology association, I find this situation deplorable. I know the department from my former employers has not had the finances for guided walks or for a repeat of an excellent conference for members, for the past year. I would have gladly paid for these events. However, I am in a much fortunate position than many people.”

wetland-logo-small-fileCARRS WETLAND PROJECT Facebook (Scarborough)

“Thanks for sharing this Spencer. Cuts to the staff team dealing with heritage and environment work across North Yorkshire are worrying. It is difficult to see how staffing reductions can be accommodated without losing some of the protection and leadership the County’s cultural, natural and historic environment has benefited from up to now.”

rescueRESCUE ‏@rescue_news

@TeesArchSoc “our experience suggests that local objections carry greater weight with local authorities than national campaigners.”

Kind regards,

Spencer Carter | TAS Chair and eCommunications

TAS ACTION | North Yorkshire Archaeology Service at Risk

Budget cuts threaten Historic Environment Team, Archaeological and Environmental Services | Find out what you can do

The future of the North Yorkshire County Council historic environment team is at risk after new budget cuts at North Yorkshire County Council, agreed last month, which include a reduction of over £470,000 in the budget for Waste and Countryside Services. This will include a reduction of £155,000 in staff costs for waste, archaeology, biodiversity and ecology services over the next year (2014/15).

The historic environment team currently employs four members of staff, including an HER officer, and provides archaeological guidance to local planning authorities, developers, residents and land owners. They also maintain the county historic environment record.

“These cuts are part of Council measures to cut their overall budget by £94 million over 4 years (to the end of March 2015) with additional cuts of up to £73 million anticipated for the period 2015-19.”

The main roles of the archaeological service are to:

  • Provide archaeological advice to local planning authorities;
  • Provide pre-planning guidance to developers and residents, and archaeological advice to landowners and agents;
  • Provide guidance on archaeological work across the county, including commercial and community-led excavations;
  • Maintain and manage heritage information and access to it (including curating the North Yorkshire Historic Environment Record);
  • Promote the historic environment of the region.

The service covers the county of North Yorkshire outside of the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks. North Yorkshire is the largest county in Britain and has a significant and diverse archaeological heritage.

“As seen in other parts of the country (e.g. in Worcestershire) archaeology services have the potential to generate income through commercial work,  service charges and grant-funded projects. However, without sufficient staff in post to put this into practice, the service is likely to be increasingly vulnerable to cuts in future (which is a particular worry considering the anticipated budget cuts predicted by the Council over the next 4-5 years).”

What to do now

  • Read this short briefing document prepared by the Council for British Archaeology (PDF format, 2 pages). [Updated 06-Mar-2014]
  • If you are resident (and vote) in North Yorkshire write to your Councillor and consider writing to your MP.
    Keep your letter short, to the point, empathetic to the challenges facing councils, and polite. Always identify yourself and that you are one of the people they represent. Your voice counts more if they think you vote for them.
    See some more advice on How to Communicate with Your Elected Representative Effectively.
  • Find details of the County Councillor for your area via the council’s website: http://democracy.northyorks.gov.uk/Committees.aspx?councillors=1
  • Please share this message with other interested groups in North Yorkshire.
  • The CBA will be writing to John Weighell, the Council Leader.

» See the email version of this message and forward to friends (you can also subscribe at the end)

Kind Regards,

Spencer Carter | TAS Chair & eCommunications