HISTORY OF SAMSAS AND NEWS ITEMS
19.01.18 Phyllida Shaw
Phyllida Shaw presented a lecture "An Artist's War".
When the First World War broke out, Morris Meredith Williams was living in Edinburgh with his wife Alice, a sculptor, and earning
his living from book illustration and teaching. A short man, his attempt to join the army in 1914 failed since he was too short of
stature, but six months later he was accepted by the 17th Battalion, The Welsh Regiment, the first Bantam battalion to be raised in
From June 1916 he spent ten months in and out of the trenches of the Western Front near Loos, Arras and the Somme, later mapping
enemy positions from aerial reconnaissance shots with the Heavy Artillery. In 1918 he joined the Royal Engineers’ Camouflage Unit
at Wimereux. After the peace he was among a handful of artists kept back to make paintings for the official record of the war and
toured the shattered landscape in an old ambulance car.
Never without a sketchbook and pencils in his pocket, he drew at every opportunity, producing an extraordinary record of his
surroundings. After the war some of the sketches became oil paintings while others inspired a series of war memorials in bronze,
stone, wood and stained glass, most notably for the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle, on which he and Alice
In the 24 May 2017 book Phyllida Shaw (Author) An Artist's War: The Art and Letters of Morris and Alice Meredith Williams
Phyllida touchingly portrays the most brutal stark images of the First World War.
15.12.17 Rob Hedge
Rob Hedge presented a lecture "Violent Debacles: Ice Age archaeology and scientific curiosity
in the West Midlands".
From basking hippos to herds of mammoth, this talk explored the period that shaped the West Midlands as we know them, and
discussed half a million years of evidence for human occupation of the area.
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service and Museums Worcestershire are leading a project to highlight and celebrate the
fruits of two centuries of research into the archaeology and natural history of the Ice Age.
17.11.17 Teresa Gilmore
Teresa Gilmore presented a lecture "The Leekfrith Torcs".
Teresa Gilmore is Finds Liaison Officer at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Four Iron Age gold torcs were discovered
in a field by metal detectorists during December 2016 at Leekfrith, North Staffordshire. The find consists of three neck
torcs and a bracelet. They were located in close proximity to each other and are believed fo be the oldest Iron Age gold
jewellery found in Britain.
22.09.17 Peter Groom
Dr Peter Groom presented a lecture "The use of experimental archaeology to solve archaeological
Peter Groom is an experimental archaeologist with an interest in the use of natural resources in the Mesolithic
and Palaeolithic. Peter brings a valuable knowledge of plant species and seasonality to the study of the Mesolithic.
He has an array of primitive and traditional skills and has worked extensively with the production and use of natural fibres.
21.04.17 Simon Huguet
Simon has published more than a thousand Geograph images.
Simon has developed a long standing interest in the history of the countryside and its people. Whilst hunting can
be an emotive and contentious subject, whatever one's view of it, the chase has indisputably been a deep woven thread of country
life for hundreds of years. Simon talked about the evolution of hunting since the Middle Ages, how it has impacted on the
Staffordshire countryside, its social history and some of the people, the great, good and not so good, who have been part of it.
18.09.15 Kevin Colls
Kevin Colls presented a lecture "The Isle of Harris Project - the
archaeology of an unknown island".
Previously from the University of Birmingham, Kevin now manages projects
for the Centre of Archaeology at Staffordshire University. He has also
been involved in projects concerning the Staffordshire Hoard, and the
excavation of Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.
17.04.15 Andrew Fear
Dr Andrew Fear presented a lecture "The Lost Eagle: The mysterious
disappearance of the 9th Legion". Rosemary Sutcliff's book "The Eagle of
The Ninth" is of course beloved of many members, but were the
Romano-British archaeologist Professor Sir Ian Richmond and Sutcliff
correct in stating that LEG VIIII disappeared in Northern Scotland? More
recently discovered military inscriptions and memorial stones indicate
that instead LEG VIIII met its fate in the Dacian wars in the late
16.01.15 Mike Hodder
Dr Mike Hodder, recently retired Archaeologist of the City of
Birmingham, presented a lecture "Sutton Park: the archaeology of a
special landscape" which explored archaeological features in Sutton
Park, originating as a Medieval deer park and containing many surviving
earthworks, including deer park subdivisions, Medieval fishponds, mill
pools, wood banks, a 19th Century racecourse, Prehistoric and Roman
features. The talk included the results of a recent LiDAR survey and
features revealed through heathland management.
19.12.14 Caroline Sturdy-Colls
Dr Caroline Sturdy-Colls, forensic archaeologist at Staffordshire
University, presented a lecture "Forensic approaches to buried remains"
which explained the work of a forensic archaeologist. She has worked in
many areas of the world, including the Channel Islands and Treblinka,
supporting some very sensitive investigations.
21.11.14 Della Hooke
Della Hooke, Honorary Fellow at the University of Birmingham, presented a
lecture "Early Medieval Staffordshire" which explained the influence of
the Anglo-Saxon landscape on the modern local government boundaries.
She is famous for her books Trees in Anglo-Saxon England; The
Anglo-Saxon landscape: the kingdom of the Hwicce; England's Landscape
Vol. 6: The West Midlands; Mediaeval Villages; and The landscape of Anglo-Saxon England.
19.09.14 Stephen Dean
Stephen Dean, Principal Archaeologist at Staffordshire County Council,
presented "Echoes in the landscape: a tour of the Messines battlefield"
using the recent report on the 1918 Messines Model and the 2013 dig on
Cannock Chase, in which several members took part, to throw light on
the findings of the excavation in the historical context of the actual
June 1917 battle which brought glory to the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.
This was very topical because of the current 100 year anniversary of the
First World War.
25.04.14 Dr Mike Nevell
Dr Mike Nevell, Head of Archaeology, Manchester University, Salford and
Director of Manchester University's Archaeology Unit, gave a lecture to
the Society on 25.04.14, with the title Digging up Cottonopolis.
He found that his own car park was in fact built over the remains of
Salford's first cotton mill. The lecture was a complete whirlwind
history of textile mills in Derbyshire, East Cheshire and Lancashire,
from the Arkwright mills of the late 18th century onwards, involving not
only cotton but silk and fustian, powered by water and later steam.
Time Team were also involved in the excavations of the mill. Manchester
became the second city of Britain in its heyday because of this textile
21.02.14 Dr Roger White
Dr Roger White, Academic Director of the Ironbridge International
Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham, gave a
lecture to the Society on 21.02.14, with the title Britannia Prima, Britain's last Roman province.
It can be thought that the Byzantine Romano-British province of
Britannia Prima was the last vestige of the Roman Empire, conquered only
by Edward I well after the fall of Constantinople.
Richard Hinton, former teacher of history, is currently our Chairman.
17.11.06 Roy Lewis
Roy Lewis, Stafford local historian gave a lecture to the Society on 17.11.06, with the title Greengate Street, Stafford. He has given subsequent lectures on different parts of Stafford.
18.03.05 The Birmingham Pals
The First World War reconstruction society The Birmingham Pals gave a presentation to the Society on 18.03.05, with the title Memories of World War I.
16.04.04 Robert Copeland
Robert Copeland, pottery manufacturer Spode/Copeland gave a lecture to the Society on 16.04.04, with the title Cheddleton Flint Mill.
19.05.01 The Armchair Controversy
Notwithstanding the involvement of members in many archaeological digs in Staffordshire, Current Archaeology
lists the Stafford and Mid-Staffs Archaeology Society as "Mainly an armchair society".
On 19.05.01 a letter was received from Major (retired) Arthur
Gumbleton-Pogwell complaining that he had never been offered the
facility of an armchair.
The committee response to this situation was circulated to members on 28.07.01.
On 31.07.01 solicitors Snorling, Snorling and Glump informed the Society
of the Major's death on 07.07.01, and a bequest to the Society of his
entire collection of commodes of all nations, collected by the Major
during his army career. However, the north tower of Knottley Grange had
been struck by lightning, igniting the Major's gunpowder, and in the
resulting conflagration the collection of commodes had been destroyed
along with many other items.
The armchair saga has therefore been brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
13.12.96 Jeremy Milln
Jeremy Milln, National Trust Archaeologist gave his first lecture to the Society on 13.12.96, with the title The National Trust - The place for archaeology?.
18.10.96 Dr Robert Roach
Geologist Dr Robert Roach gave his first lecture to the Society on 18.10.96, with the title In the shadow of Vesuvius.
19.01.96 Dr Vince Gaffney
Geophysicist/archaeologist Dr Vince Gaffney gave his first lecture to the Society on 19.01.96, with the title Archaeology in the Adriatic. He is also known for his work in the Wroxeter Hinterland Project and the North Sea Doggerland Project.
16.10.92 David Wilkinson
Stafford Borough Council Archaeologist David Wilkinson gave his first lecture to the Society on 16.10.92, with the title Roman Roads. He has archived many of the pottery records for Stafford excavations.
16.09.88 David Barker
Pottery expert David Barker from the Stoke-on-Trent Museum gave his first lecture to the Society on 16.09.88, with the title The early Staffordshire pottery industry. He has been a pottery consultant for Time Team.
18.03.88 Mike Hodder
Archaeologist Mike Hodder gave his first lecture to the Society on 18.03.88, with the title Archaeology in the Sandwell Valley.
13.01.84 Bruce Braithwaite
Bruce Braithwaite gave his first lecture to the Society on 13.01.84, with the title William the Conqueror. He has lectured to the Society on numerous subsequent occasions.
11.12.81 Gary Lock
Gary Lock, PhD student of Dr John Wilcock at the Research Centre for
Computer Archaeology, North Staffordshire Polytechnic, gave a lecture to
the Society on 11.12.81, with the title Hillforts of South-East England.
He is now Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the Institute of
Archaeology, University of Oxford, and Chairman of the international Computer Applications in Archaeology annual conferences.
09.10.76 Arnold Mountford
Arnold Mountford, former curator of the Stoke-on-Trent Museum and Art
Gallery, that houses a collection of pottery more important than that at
the Victoria and Albert Museum, gave a lecture to the Society on
09.10.76, with the title 20 years of excavations in North Staffordshire.
07.05.76 Professor Graham Webster
Professor Graham Webster, the famous archaeologist of the Roman Empire,
gave a lecture to the Society on 07.05.76, with the title Roman Conquest of the Midlands.
16.01.76 Professor Martin Carver
Professor Martin Carver is a very famous archaeologist. He is from a
military family (his step-grandfather was Field Marshal Montgomery), and
so his first career was in the army. His first archaeological work was
in Stafford. Then, associated with the University of Birmingham, he was
chosen to head the important excavations at Sutton Hoo. He gave his
first lecture to the Society on 16.01.76, with the title Clark Street, Stafford.
18.04.75 Professor Philip Barker
Philip Barker, a well-known archaeologist, gave his first lecture to the Society on 18.04.75, with the title Wroxeter Roman City.
07.01.72 Dr John Wilcock
John Wilcock, a founder member of the Society, gave his first lecture to the Society on 07.01.72, with the title Scientific Aids to Archaeology. He has lectured to the Society on numerous subsequent occasions, and was appointed President on 19.10.12.
February 1971 Foundation of the Society
The Society was formed in February 1971 by Francis Celoria, Jack Fisher, John Wilcock and others. Lectures were initially held
weekly to promote interest, but from April 1971 meetings have been held monthly.
Send all comments, updates and queries for the SAMSAS History and News Page to
20 January 2018 updated by John Wilcock