North East Hampshire Historical
& Archaeological Society

NEHHAS logo


History of NEHHAS.

Founded in 1970, NEHHAS originally came under the umbrella of the Royal Aircraft Establishment recreation society. It was started by a nucleus of members who attended local WEA courses in archaeology and history. It took the name "North East Hampshire Archaeological Society" until 1972 when it was changed at the AGM to "Farnborough District Archaeological Society". At this time it also became open to non-RAE persons. Later in the decade it embraced local history interests by changing its name again to its present form: North East Hampshire Historical and Archaeological Society, NEHHAS.

The society was involved in archaeological studies, excavations and historical research while hosting monthly illustrated talks at Room 6 in the Farnborough Community Centre. At these Friday night talks, guest lecturers or members presented slides and/or artefacts of archaeological and historic interest, either local or from further afield. NEHHAS also produced a number of reports on excavations and provided its members with regular newsletters. A library of related books, magazines, pamphlets, maps and photos was set up and made available for members to view on meeting nights. An AGM was held each spring at which the committee reported on the past year and candidates sought election to office.

Roman coins

During the first few years society members were involved in a number of "rescue" digs as a result of road-building (e.g. M3 extension, Alton By-pass) and town re-development. Small-scale excavations were also carried out at local sites (e.g. Cock-a-Dobby Hill, Romayne Close, Tower Hill and Ship Lane). The latter was the site of a pottery and yielded many examples of the local "coarse-ware". Of particular interest was a Watching Brief undertaken in 1999 on the site of Grade II listed Broomhill in Cove, Hampshire, a Tudor farm house with earlier features. This property, which had three wells, was being converted into separate dwellings and would retain some of its post-medieval characteristics. [Journal Vol. 4]

Iron Age pot.

A major excavation which the society undertook, and which extended from 1990 to 2003, was at the Grove at Heckfield, Hampshire where the foundations of a late 17thC/early 18thC country house were traced. Further excavations nearby found evidence of a middle Iron Age working site, mainly iron smelting. At members evenings the finds were analysed and recorded and ultimately returned to the owners of the land, Heckfield Place Management. [Journal Vol. 8].

For many years the Society was involved in searching for the route of a Roman road but in 2009 we ceased this activity. This followed heated discussions at committee meetings resulting in one member breaking away to form his own “Field Archaeology Branch”. He created his own website using our name even though he was no longer a member. Despite our protestations he continues in this endeavour to the present day causing our society name to be discredited, particularly among young archaeologists. A journal, Volume 3 “Finding the Road” (2011), gives the details of our efforts in this venture.

Field-walking trips were organised, other Friday evening evening activities included artefact and pottery sorting and marking. We monitored sites under development and in 2009 we conducted a rescue dig at Cove, Farnborough on a 17th Century pottery site revealed during levelling prior to house building. At various times, members attended Reading University Continuing Education courses and were involved in seminars run by the Council for British Archaeology and Hampshire Field Club.

Members collaborated with other societies on a number of projects. Typically, as early as 1971 we worked with Surrey Archaeology Society on rescue excavations at Neatham on the planned Alton by-pass. More recently, in both 2012 and 2014, we collaborated with Berkshire Archaeology Research Group on geophysical and topographical studies at the site of a 17thC manor House in Greywell, Hampshire, first identified from aerial photographs of earth-works. Unfortunately we were not able to follow up this survey with excavations. Over the last few years some of our members have been involved in digs organised by BAHS (Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society) at both Basing and at Chilton Candover in Hampshire.

Resistance Survey map.

The Society organised several events to coincide with the CBA Festival of British Archaeology Fortnight including, in 2011, a display in Princes Mead Shopping Centre. Two events were held for the CBA Festival in 2012, one a survey at Greywell and the other a visit to Farnham Castle and Bishop’s Palace. In 2013 we enjoyed a canal walk from Greywell visiting Odiham Castle. In 2012 and 2014 we joined with BARG (Berkshire Archaeology Research Group) to survey areas of land at Greywell for potential digs. During the summer of 2015 a display of border-ware pottery was arranged in Fleet Library.

Over the years the society accumulated a significant corpus of potsherds related to the Surrey/Hampshire border pottery industry – known as Borderware. The excavations of kiln sites in this area by members extended from the early years of the society right up to 2009 and the finds, of different fabrics, dated from the 14thC up to the 19thC. In 2014, the society published SHERDS an analysis and description of all the sherds in the collection. [Journal Vol. 7] In 2018, with the exception of a retained small display collection, the remaining sherds were donated to the Hampshire Cultural Trust at Chilcomb, Winchester.

The society ran a regularly up-dated website (formerly “www.hants.org.uk/NEHHAS” then later “www.nehhas.com”) which included news of up-coming events, outlines of past talks, outings, etc. and an on-line archive of past presentations and documents related, mainly, to the Farnborough area. We also ran a Facebook page where notice of the talks, additional information and photos were shown.

The Society had been holding its meetings at the Farnborough Community Centre for many years but Rushmoor Borough Council served notice that the Centre was to close in December 2018. It was this event that forced an Extraordinary General Meeting to be held in August 2018 at which the decision to close the Society in December was made. The increasing average age of the membership was a factor contributing to this decision. The passing of several valuable members during recent times, including: Sarah Fry (2010), Vi Scregg (2012), Jennifer Tearle (2014), Geoff Hoare (2016), Don Woolhead (2017) and Maisie Hoare (2018), had robbed the Society of much talent.

See our Year Diaries page for notes on recent years activities.

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This page last updated in March 2019.