NIGERIAN FIELD SOCIETY – UK BRANCH
Report for 2009
Chair: Professor Rob Oldham, Treasurer: Mr. Geoff Partridge, Secretary: Miss Sheila Everard
The UK Branch continues to flourish with 127 members, forty of whom actively attend meetings. The three gatherings held in various parts of the UK were all well attended and included some visitors from Nigeria.
AGM and Spring meeting held on the Isle of Wight on the 25th and 26th April 2009. This event attracted 30 members and one visitor from Nigeria. After a lively AGM and lunch at the Highdown Inn, most of those attending walked up to Tennyson Down where the National Trust warden led a most interesting stroll up on to the high chalk downland explaining the Geology, archaeology, flora and fauna of the area. The Inn provided us all with an excellent dinner in the evening.
On Sunday, the group met in Yarmouth Harbour for a tour of the RNLI Lifeboat and the town afterwards with its castle, owned by English Heritage. From there, we took the open top ‘bus to the Needles Battery where we had lunch before exploring the Museum which explains in vivid detail the life and activities of this crucial defence position of the Southern English coast and in particular, Portsmouth’s naval base. Thanks are due to Raymond and Lilian Coe for organising such an interesting meeting. Many members stayed on for a few more days to explore other delights including the island home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Osborne House, Ventnor Botanical Gardens and the Roman remains at Brading.
Summer Meeting – a Symposium on West African Archaeology at Sheffield held on the 27th/28th June 2009.
This was a major undertaking for the UK branch and we have Dr Philip Allsworth Jones to thank for co-ordinating the project. Speakers from various Universities in the UK as well as Ibadan, Paris, Coimbra Portugal, South Carolina and Copenhagen spoke on ‘new Developments and Perspectives’ in various aspects of the archaeology of West Africa. Two students from Cameroon, at present studying in Belgium, also attended. Professor Thurstan Shaw, celebrating his 95th birthday sent a special video discussion on the Iwo Elero cranium he discovered in 1965, subject of one of the lectures at the symposium. A summary of the proceedings is published in this Journal. Several speakers joined members at the following dinner at the University Arms.
On Sunday, members gathered in Castleton in Derbyshire for lunch and sightseeing. Thanks are due to Geoff & Dinah Partridge and Dr Anne Phillips for their help with the domestic arrangements.
Autumn meeting held in the Forest of Dean 11th/12th September 2009.
Jen & Alan Maddison organised this very successful gathering in the Forest of Dean situated between the rivers Wye and Severn in the far south of Gloucestershire. 30,000 acres of Ancient mixed woodland, used in the past for iron smelting, an industry which continued after the Industrial Revolution as the region is also blessed with large coal and iron deposits. Edward the 1st granted the miners special privileges at the end of the 13th century as they helped him develop the defences of Berwick, a crucial border town against Scottish invasion. Even today free miners work their pits and we visited Hopewell Colliery and Museum on Saturday Afternoon, following a visit and lunch at the Dean Heritage centre. A dinner was held at the Courtfield Arms Lower Lydbrooke in the evening.
On Saturday, one of our members, Bill Howard, a former forester, led 35 members on a walk through the trees talking about oak regeneration. Wild pigs roam here but we saw only evidence of their rootling on the verges where the ground is soft. Bill and his wife Caroline also entertained the committee at their meeting on Friday. Their house, an eyrie high and deep in the wooded hills above Tintern was reminiscent of quarters reserved for Judges in the former Mid Western Region of Nigeria. The huge leg of pork served to the committee was I understand, bought locally but not poached from the wild!
We are sorry to announce the death of the following member during the year: Mr D G Harrison on the 16th November 2009
Programme for 2010
1. Spring Meeting and AGM : Hatfield, Hertfordshire, 24th/25th April 2010 – organisers Eve and David Lloyd
2. Summer Meeting: Alnwick, Northumberland, 19th/20th June 2010 – organiser, Sheila Everard.
3. Autumn Meeting: Torrington Devon, – organisers John & Anita Appleby.
The committee are very grateful to members willing to organise meetings and they extend a warm welcome to members from Nigeria who may be visiting the country at the time.