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


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

Spring 2015 Lecture Programme


We have just finalised the list of lectures for the New Year. We kick off with a talk about the settlement of the Knights Templar in Keele (January 9th). A fortnight later, we have the opportunity to find out something about the mysterious disappearance of Rome's Ninth Legion somewhere in Britain in the 2nd Century AD (or thereabouts). In February we can learn about St. Kilda, a World Heritage site in the Outer Hebrides; and about the Ecton Copper mines in the 18th Century. The last talk in the season is in March, and is about excavations at Hallaton, the Leicestershire village where in 2000, the largest hoard of British Iron Age coins was discovered. For the full list, see our Lectures page.


15th December 2014

Audley Castle Mound

We have just completed a small excavation on the site of the castle of Henry de Audley (the first Baron Audley) - the Motte in the village of Audley, Staffordshire.


Aerial view of Bailey area looking North


The Audley Millennium Green Project organised Open Days, school visits and visits from local press and radio including The Sentinel and BBC Radio Stoke.

The excavation followed up on geophysics surveys which we did last year on the Motte and (suspected) Bailey. The Motte is a scheduled site under the protection of English Heritage and we are not able to dig there, but the suspected Bailey area is not. We put in some small trenches this year to investigate anomalies in the survey data, but found little other than the remains of a possibly Victorian cinder path. However, it was a useful PR exercise for SOTMAS.
You can read all about it, see more pictures, and download Winston's survey report from our Audley Castle page here.

The picture above was taken by Terry using his drone


7th October 2014

Lectures for Autumn 2014 announced

Our speakers for this season have chosen some very interesting and some unusual subjects to talk to us about. To see what I mean, you can see the full programme here. But I'll give you some hints: included are Anglo-Saxons in Tamworth, Vikings in Lincolnshire, castle builders in Staffordshire, Neolithic folk in Orkney, and ... toilets.

The first lecture is on Friday the 10th October

15th September 2014



In July this year we carried out a geophysics survey in part of the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton. We had been asked to do this last year, but the wet weather caused us to postpone it. The objective was to see if there is any evidence of Roman occupation here. While our results do not provide any positive confirmation of Roman structure(s) under this part of the Gardens, there may be enough clues to warrant further investigation (were it possible). Below is an extract from our report, to read more go to our Buxton page.

Buxton report extract

28th August 2014



Last year we explored a field near the old village of Mucklestone, near Market Drayton. While still in Staffordshire, it is very near the border with Shropshire. The field in question repeatedly shows dark areas of soil with sherds of pottery on the surface after ploughing. The photo below shows some examples.


We were asked to investigate, so last year (2013) we carried out a survey and an exploratory dig. To see what we found, click here, or go via the Fieldwork and Trips menu on the left. On the Mucklestone page you can also read the interesting history of the village. This historical background was written by Colin Sparkes, a local resident and member of the Society. We will be returning to further our investigations after the farmer has harvested his crop later this year.


15th August 2014




Coxbank Farm excavation finishes for this year

We have now back-filled at Coxbank Farm, and once again we are left with an intruiging feature to investigate further in next year's excavation.
This year we have not found any artifacts, but we have found some interesting features. Some are shown below - click on any thumbnail to get the full picture.
For further detail, see our week-by-week pictorial dig diary


A hole - to hold water? A forked shallow channel Half a deep channel?

10th August 2014

Eric Warrilow



With great sorrow we have to report that our friend and fellow digger Eric died recently. Maureen Thomas related her memories of Eric at his funeral last month. You can read her eulogy to Eric here, and see several pictures (taken by Dave Thomas). These pictures show Eric at some of our excavations over the last few years. I'm sure that these words and pictures will bring back to all our members who knew him, many of their own fond memories of Eric.


17th July 2014


Excavation at Cox Bank Farm starts again



We have just started this year's excavation at Cox Bank Farm, to further investigate the Burnt Mound we worked on last year and the two previous years. This year we hope to find a second trough, that we think we may have seen a corner of at the very end of last year's dig. More of the pot that we found a large sherd of would be good, too. Follow our progress in this year's dig diary.


11th May 2014


Lecture cancellation


Unfortunately, the speaker who was due to give us our final talk of this Spring season on May 9th, has had to cancel. Apologies if you were hoping to attend.

The Society's rooms in the museum will still be open, for any post-excavation work which may be required, and/or for access to our library. Or just for stimulating conversation with other members!


14th April 2014



Kings Low and Queens Low Report


I know I said earlier that I wouldn't report here as new books are acquired for our library, but this one is special. Our librarian has now added to the library a copy of the report on the excavations of two Early Bronze Age barrows which the Society undertook at Kings Low and Queens Low, at Tixall, near Stafford.


This and other books so far acquired this year (and last) are listed on our Library page.


5th April 2014


The Bridestones (update)



This sketch of the Bridestones was drawn by Staffordshire artist Thomas Peploe Wood (1817-1845). I have copied it from the front page of the report of our investigations at the site in 2011 and 2012. The report has been updated following review by English Heritage, and a report of our small excavation near the monument added. I have updated our Bridestones page accordingly, and you can download the full report from near the bottom of that page, or directly from here.


2nd February 2014


"Medieval Homerwych"


Pending availability of the full report of our excavations at Hammerwich, we are making available Colin Sparkes's historical introduction section of the report. It provides a very interesting insight into the area's medieval history, and you can download it as a pdf document using the link above.


13th January 2014


Full Lecture Programme for Spring 2014


We now have information about all the lectures in the Spring 2014 programme. For more detail, see our Lectures page. Included is an evening devoted to the launch of a new book reporting the excavations that the Society carried out some years ago at Kings Low and Queens Low near Stafford. The evening will include a talk by Professor Gary Lock and Winston Hollins.


11th January 2014


Spring 2014 Lecture Programme


Our new lecture programme kicks off with two lectures of local interest: the first (this coming Friday, 10th January) is about Richard Arkwright and the Cromford Mill; the second (Friday January 24th) is about ceramics production and prehistoric society in the Peak District. For some more detail, see our Lectures page. (Sorry about the short notice!)


7th January 2014

Two new links on the links page


I have added two new links on the links page. These are to a blog describing (amongst other things) the excavation and analysis of an early Bronze Age burnt mound at Sizergh; and to a very interesting thesis covering the derivation of all the main and many of the minor place names in Staffordshire (including a review of the early history of the county and of the various languages and dialects which have influenced its place names).


7th January 2014

A Happy New Year to all our members and visitors!



The news which previously appeared on the rest of this page related to 2013, 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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