Lectures for Spring 2019


Our lecture programme for Spring 2019 is now available. There are some gaps in the programme which we are hoping to fill. On any unfilled dates (Fridays when the Learning Suite at the Museum is available to us but no lecture has been arranged) we will be doing post-excavation work. Initially sorting and classifying remaining un-sorted pottery sherds from the Garshall Green excavation, we will soon be moving on to look in detail at the finds from the recent Mucklestone dig.


14th January 2019



End of the Mucklestone dig


We have ended our excavation in Mucklestone, having failed to find any convincing evidence for a house near the bread oven which we found in 2016. We did find many sherds of 17th-18th C pottery, very rusty keys and nails, and an enigmatic shallow hole filled with large sandstones. Near this feature we also found three post holes close together. How these relate to other post holes we found in previous years we have yet to determine.


Enigmatic sandstone-filled hole


The pottery sherds included one fragment of a late 17th-early 18th C slipware dish with a face. The face was apparently intended to be that of a lion (designed by somebody who had never seen one!), as evidenced by an intact example of the same pattern which can be seen in the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.


Slipware dish with face


The season had its difficulties due to the weather: a long period of very hot and sunny conditions which dried out the site and caused us to have to cancel work on several days beacuse it was too hot. The sun also caused our tent to become brittle, and it eventually fell apart!


To see more pictures of the dig and our finds, visit our Mucklestone 2018 page.


4th November 2018



Post-excavation work in the Museum


Before our AGM on September 28th, after which our Autumn Lecture Series starts (see our Lectures page), we still have 3 evenings in the museum Learning Suite when we will be doing post-excavation work. At these sessions we will be classifying and sorting finds from current and/or past excavations. Our library will also be open for consultation, and of course other society members will be there who will be discussing our current dig and no doubt potential future digs. All members - or prospective members - are welcome. The dates are as follows: (all are Fridays, starting at 7:30 pm)
August 24th
September 7th
September 14th .


21st August 2018



Lectures for Autumn 2018


Our lecture programme for Autumn 2018 is now available. The final lecture, in December, is Prof. Vince Gaffney's about the Stonehenge Landscape Project. (This is the one that was to have been given in January). This lecture, together with the preceding one on the 23rd November, will be held in the Lecture Room at the Mitchell Arts Centre in Hanley. (This is due to Learning Suite availability problems at the Museum). To see the full lecture programme, go to our Lecture page.


24th July 2018



Return to Mucklestone


At last the weather has improved enough to allow us back to the site of last year's dig in Mucklestone. We are continuing our search for the house which surely must have existed near to the bread oven whose remains we excavated in 2016. We started this year's search to the south of the bread oven, where last year we found lines of nails. We also want to investigate the possible continuation of last year's Ditch 5, on the western edge of the site. To date we are still trowelling plough soil (see picture below), from which many small sherds of 17th - 18th Century pottery have been emerging. For pictures of these, of our activity so far, and for a pictorial account of our subsequent progress, go to our Mucklestone 2018 page.


Tuesday 17th April 2018

23rd April 2018


STOP PRESS: last minute change to this Friday's lecture (January 12th)


There is a change to the talk on January 12th, which should have been Vince Gaffney, talking about the Stonehenge Landscape Project. Unfortunately, and at the last minute, Prof. Gaffney has had to rearrange a working visit to Callanish, which means that he will be in the Outer Hebrides next Friday. He has very kindly arranged for a colleague to come to talk to us, but it won't be about the Stonehenge project: Prof. Gaffney will now do this at a later date. Next Friday, Dr. Philip Murgatroyd is going to talk to us about the Battle of Manzikert, covering a range of topics and including archaeology. The Battle of Manzikert was in what is now Turkey, in 1071. The Byzantines were defeated by the Seljuks. It is considered to be one of the root causes for the later Crusades: the West saw Manzikert as a signal that Byzantium was no longer capable of being the protector of Eastern Christianity, or of Christian pilgrims to the Holy Places in the Middle East. This sounds fascinating and Prof. Gaffney assures us that he has heard the talk and it's very good. We hope you'll be able to support the talk so that we can show appreciation of Dr. Murgatroyd's willingness to help out at the last minute. We'll do our best to rearrange the Stonehenge talk, but, from what we hear of Vince's trip to Callanish, there should be something interesting to talk about there too. Apologies to anyone who has been disappointed by these last minute changes, but we hope to see as many of you as possible next Friday. The Lectures page has been updated accordingly.


7th January 2018



New Year/Spring 2018 Lecture Programme


Our New Year Lecture Programme for 2018 is now available. You'll notice a couple of high profile names among the upcoming speakers, namely Vince Gaffney and Julian Thomas, both of whom you may have seen on TV. We also have a talk from John Prag, who has worked for a very long time on the Alderley Edge project, Jon Goodwin who will update us on the archaeology in the city, Tim Cobbold from the professional archaeology unit ARS, and a 'hands on' session of experimental archaeology with Pete Groom, who set the background to the subject last Friday (December 8th).

 Read more detail, and the full set of dates here.


12th December 2017


November 10th Lecture now to be given on November 17th


There is a problem with security coverage for the museum room on 10th November, so there will be no meeting that night. Mark Patterson, who is coming to talk about Roman Derbyshire, has agreed to come on November 17th instead, and Jon Goodwin will now be updating us on the archaeology of the city on February 23rd of next year. This will be an extra to the spring lectures, so we won't have 'lost' a talk. The Opening Dates and Lectures pages have been updated accordingly.


2nd November 2017


Searching for a house in Mucklestone


In 2016, we found the remains of a bread oven in a field in Mucklestone, Staffordshire (near the border with Shropshire). Geophysics surveys we carried out suggested that there may have been a house just north of the oven. So this year (2017) we set out to see if we could find any remains of such a house. The key pictured below is one of two that we found during the course of this year's excavation. To see what else we found, go to our Mucklestone 2017 page.


Mucklestone key 1


7th October 2017


SOTMAS rooms at the museum not open on 8th September!


The next scheduled club evening at the museum - for post-ex work, access to the library and, doubtless, discussion of our recently-closed (temporarily?) Mucklestone dig, was to have been next Friday, the 8th of September. Unfortunately the museum now need the rooms for something else, and they have given us the 29th September in exchange. So the next evening we are at the museum is for the lecture on the 22nd Sept, followed therefore by the following Friday, the 29th, for the next club evening. The Opening Dates page has been updated accordingly.


3rd September 2017


Tollgate Farm Leather Report


Tray of shoes


In 2009 and 2010, we found a large quantity of Roman leather in a well at Tollgate Farm. Quita Mould, a leading expert in archaeological leather, has examined the leather in great detail and written for us a very comprehensive report. You can read the report here, where it's several sections are available as pdf files.


21st August 2017


Change to opening date in July 2017


Please note that one of the dates in July has been brought forward by a week: from the 14th July to the 7th July. The Opening Dates page has been updated accordingly.


So to confirm, we're open on July 7th, not July 14th.


24th June 2017


Lecture Programme for Autumn 2017 Announced


This Autumn's series of lectures ranges widely in both time and space: from Neolithic Turkey through Roman Derbyshire to Medieval Staffordshire.


You can see the full list on our Lectures page. More detail will be available nearer the time.


The date for this year's AGM is also announced: Friday August 25th 2017 - a reminder of this is also to be found on the Lectures page, as well as the Opening Dates page.


24th June 2017


Society Rooms Opening Dates 2017 updated


There have been a couple of changes on our Opening Dates page, as follows.

Most importantly, the opening time for our Friday evening meetings has been changed from 7:30 to the earlier time of 7:00 pm.

Also, one of our dates in November has been changed, from the 24th to the 17th.

So that's the 17th of November, just one week after the previous meeting on the 10th.


29th May 2017


Lecture on Friday 10th March


On Friday 10th March the Staffordshire Archaeologist, Steve Dean, is coming to the Potteries Museum in Hanley to give SOTMAS an update on recent archaeology in the county. It's becoming a tradition that whenever the County Archaeologist comes to speak to us, it follows hot on the heels of a remarkable find in our area. Next Friday's lecture is a case in point. Steve Dean will be covering other important discoveries in Staffordshire over the last couple of years, but he will be including the exciting find of Iron Age torcs near to Leek, recently announced to the press. (See  the photo below). The torcs are at the Potteries Museum for another two weeks, so try to see them before they disappear for a while for valuation etc. and it should be another fascinating talk next Friday, so do try to make it.

As usual, the lecture will be given in the Learning Suite of the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley on Fridays at 7.45 p.m. Entrance at the side of the Potteries Museum, off Warner Street. Admission is free to members. Visitors are welcome: 3, students 1.50


Iron Age torcs found in Leekfrith


3rd March 2017

Society Rooms Opening Dates 2017


We are now able to announce the full list of Fridays in 2017 when our rooms in the Museum are open for our use. On some of these days we will have a lecture (see below). When there is no lecture, we will be doing post-excavation work, planning future surveys and excavations etc. Our extensive library of history and archaeology-related books will be open on all these dates.


18th February 2017


Early start to the lecture on 13th January: 7pm


Next Friday's lecture, "New Light Under Old Wrappings: Manchester Museum's Egyptian Mummies" by Dr Campbell Price will start at the earlier time of 7pm (not the usual 7:45).  Dr Price has participated in fieldwork at Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham and Saqqara. Since 2011, he has been the Curator of Egypt and Sudan at The Manchester Museum, home of one of the UK’s largest Egyptology collections. His research interests include Egyptian elite culture in the First Millennium BC, and the presentation of ancient Egypt in museums.

Read about the whole lecture programme, and the full set of dates, here.


7th January 2017


New Year/Spring 2017 Lecture Programme


Our New Year Lecture Programme for 2017 is now available. We have a very wide-ranging set of interesting lectures covering such diverse topics as Egyptian mummies in Manchester, Viking boat burials in the Scottish Highlands, and a Victorian railway carriage in Rudyard. Lectures on Britain's most important Mesolithic site of Star Carr in Yorkshire; the excavations of burials including that of William Shakespeare; a review of recent professional archaeology projects in Staffordshire; and finally the re-arranged talk about the first Dukes of Sutherland and their Hall in Trentham (postponed from December 2016), complete the set.
Read more detail, and the full set of dates here.


21st December 2016



On the 11th September 2016 we returned to Mucklestone, where in 2013 & 2014 we carried out a geophysics survey and a small exploratory excavation. Having found what appeared to be evidence of a bread oven, together with quite a lot of early 18th Century pottery sherds, we intended to return to do a more extensive dig. However, no opportunity arose in the farmer's cultivation programme - until now. Working 3 days a week on the site until the 3rd of November, we confirmed the location of the bread oven. We believe it was a wattle and daub construction, curved at the back with a straight front face supported on a timber beam, the burnt remains of which still lie between two rows of large stones. We found little brick, most of the rubble was baked daub. In the photo below (click on it to get a larger view) you can make out the oven's outline on the ground. To see more pictures and descriptions of the dig as it progressed and of some of the finds, see our Mucklestone 2016 page. We plan to visit the site again next year to see what, if anything, we can find of any house which the oven may have been associated with.



21st November 2016

Trentham Gardens Ice House


On the 4th September 2016 we finished our excavation of the ice house in Trentham Gardens. Or rather, we have stopped because we have come to the end of the time we agreed with the estate staff, and we are ready to move on to Mucklestone (of which more later). There is still some more to be found out about the ice house structure - for example we have not fully exposed what remains of the outer walls, particularly those at the N end. We may be allowed to do some more next year, and we are soon to meet with the estate management to discuss the future of the ice house. Watch this space. In the meantime, go to our "dig diary" page to see how we progressed to this point, with pictures. Here is a final picture (looking S) showing how we have left the site:


Overview looking N

7th September 2016

Trentham Gardens Ice House


Following up on the survey we did in April of the Icehouse in Trentham Gardens, we have just started an excavation there, in order to try to find out the full extent of any remaining structure. Go to our "dig diary" page to find out more, with pictures. Here is one picture to get you started...


Excavating the icehouse

28th July 2016

Coxbank Farm Burnt Mound


On the 17th July we finished our excavation of the Burnt Mound at Coxbank Farm. We did not find any significant features under the heat-shattered stones and charcoal of the burnt mound itself, other than the start of a channel leading into the large feature we investigated last year. In this area we did this year find some large pieces of charcoal, one of which is pictured in situ in the previous (8th June) news entry for this site further down this page.  In the following picture, you can see it post-excavation - not as large as some of us hoped! Also pictured is what we think may be a hammer stone which was found during the dig. You can see other pictures from this year in our excavation diary here, where you will also find our dig director's round-up when available.


Charcoal Hammer stone


28th July 2016


Autumn 2016 Lecture Programme


Lectures for our Autumn season have now been arranged. The first lecture is about the identity of one of the skeletons which the society excavated at the site of the Cistercian Abbey of Abbey Hulton in the late 1970's. And the last concerns Trentham, where we will be conducting an excavation this year. The other lectures look to be extremely interesting as well, and we expect to have some more background information on the speakers and their lectures nearer the date of the AGM, which will be held in the museum rooms at 7:30pm on Friday October 7th (slightly later than last year), the week before the first lecture. Meanwhile, here are the dates of the lectures for your diary


28th June 2016

Big Moor visit


On Saturday 18th June, members of the Society and our guests enjoyed a most informative guided tour of prehistoric (and more recent) remains on Big Moor in the Derbyshire Peak District. Our guide was the Peak District archaeologist Dr John Barnatt. In the picture below (click on it to enlarge it), John is telling us about the stone circle known as Barbrook I. For more pictures and some background information and links, click here.

Barbrook I


21st June 2016

Coxbank Farm Burnt Mound


We have returned again to continue our excavation of the Burnt Mound at Coxbank Farm. We want to find out what the apparent features are that showed up in the magnetometry survey, just S of the area we excavated last year. We have now been working there for four weeks so far this year, and have already found what appear to be the remains of a small piece of timber sticking out of the original ground surface. Could this be the remains of a post? See the picture below for a close-up, and follow our progress with this and other features in our excavation diary here.




8th June 2016


Trentham Gardens Ice House


On the 10th April, we carried out a magnetometry survey over and around the remains of an ice house which had recently been discovered in Trentham Gardens during work to restore some of Capability Brown's 18th Century landscape.

Clearance of rhododendrons and trees revealed this brickwork:

Ice house wall

The Estate think that this is part of an ice house which was shown on estate plans before and after Capability Brown's transformation of the gardens. Here is a diagram of a typical ice house taken from a 19th Century gardening encyclopaedia :

Ice House diagram

To read more about our survey and its result go to our Trentham Gardens page, where you can also see pictures of the site and find out more about ice houses and the Trentham Estate's Capability Brown project.

24th April 2016

Bury Bank Survey


On the 6th March, a small team of SOTMAS members undertook a survey of the Bury Bank hillfort, north of Stone. Earlier this year Professor Gary Lock gave us a very interesting talk about the Hillforts Atlas Project which he is involved in. This talk inspired us to carry out a survey of our own on a Staffordshire hillfort. You can read about our survey here. Here is a photo taken on the day, as we measured the length of the hillfort using a measuring tape - click on it for a bigger picture




28th March 2016

Society Rooms Opening Dates 2016


We are now able to announce the full list of Fridays in 2016 when our rooms in the Museum are open for our use. On some of these days we will have a lecture (see below). When there is no lecture, we will be doing post-excavation work, planning future surveys and excavations etc. Our extensive library of history and archaeology-related books will be open on all these dates.


7th February 2016


Buxton Excavation Report

The full report of our survey and excavation in a small area of Buxton's Pavilion Gardens is now available on our Buxton 2015 page. You can also download it here.


19th January 2016


New Year/Spring 2016 Lecture Programme


Our New Year Lecture Programme for 2016 is now available. This gets under way in January with an old friend of the Society, Professor Gary Lock, coming to update us on progress with his Hillforts mapping project. Then in February, Arthur Wilson will be telling us about a Bronze Age cairn on Eyam Moor, which has been named after him. Also in February, Christian Hoggard's talk is about Neanderthals "north of the Watford Gap". In March, Rachael Hall speaks to us about Project Nightingale and the discovery of a hoard of Roman and Iron Age coins in a cave in Dovedale. In April, Joe Perry, assistant Collections Officer at Buxton museum, will talk to us about the 'Collections in the Landscape' project relating finds in the field to museum collections. The last talk in the set, also in April, is by Kerry Fletcher, Heritage Development Officer based in Middlewich. She has been involved with a community dig uncovering Roman remains in Middlewich. Read more detail, and the full set of dates here.


16th December 2015


The Buxton excavation ends


Our time at Buxton has run out - we have spent two long weekends, a total of 6 days, excavating this one trench in the Pavilion Gardens. We have, we think, interested and entertained many visitors to the Gardens and given them an understanding of how an archaeological investigation proceeds. In turn, we have gained much useful publicity, and hopefully a few new members. Unfortunately, we have not found any evidence of Roman occupation. Due to the nature and depth of the levelling layers put down by the Victorians, we did not have enough time to reach down to where the Romans might have been. Maybe at another visit? We all hope so, as we very much enjoyed our time here. My final picture shows a groundsman's tractor being used to squeeze the spoil into the hole! For more pictures, and a blow-by-blow account of the excavation, go to our Buxton 2015 page.


Squeeze it in

11th August 2015

Closure of the Coxbank Farm dig for this season


We have finished the dig at Coxbank Farm for the time being, as we needed to move on to Buxton, followed we hope by Mucklestone. The intriguing feature which we have been investigating at Coxbank this year has unfortunately not fully revealed itself. We do not really know what it is. It may in fact be two features from different periods, one intersecting the other. We are hoping that we may get some answers when we excavate some adjacent areas next season. In the meantime, I leave you with the last picture of the dig this year. For more pictures, in a week-by-week account of our progress, see our Coxbank 2015 page.


Final day team


7th August 2015

Autumn 2015 Lecture Programme


Lectures for our Autumn season have now been arranged. Some names may be familiar, but be assured that all the talks are new and will be right up to date with current archaeological knowledge. Deb Klemperer will be telling us about what we know from ongoing research into the Staffordshire Hoard. Professor Colin Richards will return to give us an insight into his work on Easter Island. We have Ray Johnson who will be showing film from the Potteries' past, with an archaeological slant. Daryl Garton will be bringing along her Peak District experience and talking about her involvement with Ice Age Journeys and Dr. Chris Harrison will be giving the Thelma Lancaster Memorial Lecture on 'The Medieval Mind'. Here are the dates for your diary. Note that the AGM will be held in the museum rooms at 7.30 pm on Friday September 25th.


3rd August 2015

Stop Press - Meeting rooms not open 14th August

Regrettably, our rooms will not be open on the 14th August - no security staff will be available that evening. Next meeting: 28th August


1st August 2015


Excavation in Buxton Pavilion Gardens


Today, 31st July 2015, we started to excavate the first of two 2m square trenches in the area of the Pavilion Gardens where we did the survey last year. Follow our progress on this Buxton excavation 2015 page. As you can see in the photo below, we attracted a lot of attention!

Trowelling to large audience

Intriguing features at Cox Bank Farm


Intruiging features


We have found what appears to be another trough associated with this burnt mound. We have not really found the true edges of it yet, so its orientation is uncertain. However, we seem to have a lump of clay across its southern end, and what may be a stone-lined dewpond at the northern end.  Follow our progress in 2015's dig diary.


2nd July 2015

Reminder: Society trip to Sutton Park on Saturday 27th June

Members are reminded that the Society is being given an all-day guided tour of Sutton Park on Saturday 27th June 2015. Sutton Park is a National Nature Reserve as well as being a Scheduled Ancient Monument with evidence of human occupation from prehistoric times onwards. There is information about it here: Sutton Park.
The walk will be led by Dr Mike Hodder, until recently Birmingham City Council's Planning Archaeologist and author of The Archaeology of Sutton Park (The History Press, 2013). The morning walk will be in the south-west of the park and will include one of the burnt mounds, military practice trenches and targets, the Roman road, and an 18th century mill pool. The morning walk will be the longest one, so Dr Hodder has asked for everyone to arrive promptly for the 10.30 start. The afternoon walk will be in the south-east and will include earthworks of the medieval deer park, a fishpond, woodland enclosures and sawpits. The aim is to finish the afternoon walk around 4.30. The walks will be mainly on rough paths, which may be muddy in places, so heavy shoes or trainers etc are advisable. There will be no shelter on the route, so clothing suitable for our English summer will be necessary. There will be a break for lunch between 1.00 and 2.30. There is a pub. We have been advised that it would be best to reserve tables in advance. The plan is for members to use their own transport and to meet at the Boldmere Gate, B73 6LH, on the south side of the Park at 10.30. There are some more details in the email from our Secretary on 2nd June.

20th June 2015

Excavation at Cox Bank Farm


Coxbank 2015 after one trowelling pass


We are now well into this year's excavation at Cox Bank Farm, investigating further features associated with the Bronze Age Burnt Mound which we were working on in previous years. We have identified a number of promising-looking anomalies on the magnetometry survey map, and we intend to investigate some of these. The intriguing feature which we got sight of at the end of last year's excavation will also get some attention, in the hope that we can identify it. We are also hopeful of finding more of the pot which we found a large sherd of in 2013. Follow our progress in 2015's dig diary.


17th May 2015

Tollgate Farm Samian Ware


One of the specialists who is studying the pottery we found on this Roman site has provided us with a taster of what is to come in her full report on the Samian ware. This taster is in the form of a date distribution graph which suggests when the site was vacated. You can see the graph on our new Tollgate Farm Reports page here.

In her notes on the graph, she draws attention to one vessel which was imported from Gaul. There is more about this on the Reports page, but here is a picture of the piece, which we excavated in 2003. Click on it for a larger view.

Samian beaker from Lezoux ca 120-140AD

16th March 2015

The Society's Constitution


We are making available on this site for the first time, a transcript of the Society's Constitution. This is a manuscript document, first written in 1964, which records the way we run the Society. A formally controlled document, it contains 29 numbered sections, many of which have been amended several times. Every amendment is dated, and the document is now as a result of all the amendments, somewhat difficult to comprehend. The transcript, which contains only the latest version of every section (as at December 2014), is now available as a pdf file, and you can download it from the new Constitution page (which you can also reach from the main menu via the About page). The pdf will be replaced as and when any further amendments are agreed, and a note made on the Constitution page.


3rd February 2015

The news which previously appeared on the rest of this page related to 2014, and can now be found by following the "More News" link below. Details of all the fieldwork and reports mentioned there can be found via the "Fieldwork and Trips" menu, above.


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