RHFAG - Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. What sort of archaeological society are you?

2. Why are you called "Rochford Hundred"?

3. If Noak Hill is not in the Southend area, why do you dig there?

4. Some membership categories seem quite expensive. Why is this?

5. I have no real knowledge or experience of Archaeology. Will I fit in?

6. I am still at school. Why does one of my parents have to join as well as me? 

7. Who runs RHFAG and makes the decisions?

 

 

1. What sort of archaeological society are you?

We are an amateur archaeological society for people who are interested in the subject and want hands-on experience of it.

 

Quite a few amateur societies arrange talks & trips but do no digging. Some others dig but they may not always be societies which are local to you. RHFAG was set up by people who wanted to do practical archaeological work in southeast Essex.

 

From its formation in 1993, RHFAG was set up to operate to the highest standards. We are committed to a rigorous scientific approach in all our fieldwork. As appropriate, we consult and co-operate with local government and other professional archaeological bodies and archaeologists.

 

We have worked in partnership with the professionals, such as with English Heritage and Pre-Construct Archaeology, have had our work listed as references by county Archaeology units, have given talks e.g. to Essex Archaeological and Historical Congress and have published the results of our investigations e.g. in “Medieval Ceramics”. 

 

One of our founder Members has gone on to become a nationally and internationally known Archaeologist and author, has appeared on TV including “Time Team” and has set up a groundbreaking archaeological project of international significance. Several of our Members have taken their own interests further by studying at evening class or getting first or second degrees in Archaeology. But most of our Members have absolutely no qualifications in Archaeology, just an interest in the subject and a “hands-on” approach to it.

 

What all of us have is the belief that the essence of Archaeology lies in examining the material relics that have been left behind by human activity and which can give us information about the activities and ways of life of those who have gone before us. We believe that, where it is appropriate and permissible to investigate, we can do this as long as we do it carefully, responsibly and using the correct techniques. This is what we do and we gain a great deal of enjoyment through doing it.

 

 

2. Why are you called “Rochford Hundred”?

 

The Rochford Hundred no longer exists but as a “hundred” it was the ancient administrative unit of land between the River Crouch and the Thames Estuary east of Wickford, made up of 27 parishes. This part of south east Essex includes what is now Southend, Rochford, Canewdon, Canvey Island, Rayleigh – generally, Southend and its hinterland. Most of our Members live here.

 

We meet once a month within the Rochford Hundred. Most of our excavation sites have been in the Rochford Hundred, the one exception being our Noak Hill site.

 

 

3. If Noak Hill is not in the Southend area, why do you dig there?

 

For any practically-based group, finding a good potential site is a major task. Can we get permission to dig? Are we likely to find anything there? Is the area accessible and safe to work on? Can we provide toilet facilities and fresh water? And so on.

 

When the Noak Hill site became available to us, it satisfied many criteria, even if it was a bit further for most of us to travel. It was exciting discovering a previously unknown 14c. tile kiln and to go on to find a rare animal burial. On the same site, we also uncovered the foundations and refuse dump of a mid 18c. cottage. Perhaps most interesting of all, we have found a lot of Mill Green pottery sherds, including a substantial number of wasters ie pottery damaged during kiln firing and never offered for sale. The pottery kiln awaits discovery.

 

Noak Hill gives us excellent working conditions, good archaeological experience and the prospect of further finds.

 

Other sites we have worked on are detailed in Excavations.

 

 

4. Some membership categories seem quite expensive. Why is this?

 

The 2017 cost of full adult waged membership of RHFAG is £21.00 and this could seem quite expensive. This is mainly because we are a very small group not benefitting from the economies of scale enjoyed by larger groups. Doing practical work, we have expenditure which non-digging societies may not have and as we do not generally organise trips we are unable to make the modest profits that can come through such activities. A major cost to us is insurance to cover our practical work - we pay the same overall amount as some much larger groups.

 

However, it depends how you look at it. We are a “practical” group and it would not be uncommon for you to be able to do up to 2 weeks or so of excavation in a year with us and there is no additional charge for this. Though this would not be the case every year, by comparison, if you were to look nationwide for a single week’s excavation (there are many excellent organised excavations around), you could easily find yourself spending £100.00 – 200.00+ per week with accommodation not necessarily included.

 

 

Looked at this way, a maximum of £21.00 a year with no additional charges* for up to 2 weeks’ summer excavation or other practical work may not seem so bad. When we are at Noak Hill, tea, coffee, cakes and the use of the facilities come at no cost.

 

As we are affiliated to the CBA, we receive "British Archaeology" magazine which members are welcome to borrow and read. Obtaining this publication through individual membership of the CBA would alone cost you more than our annual membership fee.

 

Despite our overheads and increases in costs, there have been no increases in our membership fees in the last 11 years and none are planned.

 

*NB We hold monthly meetings to which all Members are invited. As with most societies, not all members attend all meetings. If you do attend, we ask you to contribute £1.50 per meeting which helps towards the cost of hiring premises where a charge is made.

 

 

5. I have no real knowledge or experience of Archaeology. Will I fit in?

 

Knowledge and experience of Archaeology are not membership requirements. You will fit in if you are really interested in Archaeology, you would like to do some practical work or research, you are willing to learn and apply Archaeological skills and you behave appropriately on archaeological sites. You will not feel out of it – we really are a friendly group.

 

 

6. I am still at school. Why does one of my parents have to join as well as me?

 

If you are under 16, we have to have this rule because of your age. On activities and at meetings, you have to be accompanied by a parent, and, because of this, they have to be a Member. If you go on to become a Student Member at 16, the rule no longer applies.

 

 

7. Who runs RHFAG and makes the decisions?

 

The Members.

 

Day-to-day decisions concerning the group are made at monthly meetings at which all Members are welcome. Voting Members are those aged 16 years and older. Any such Member may raise a matter for discussion at or during a meeting.

 

Any more major decision would be likely to be made at the Annual General Meeting or at a specially convened Extraordinary General Meeting. In both cases, the agenda would be published in advance and the outcome would be decided by voting.

 

The work of RHFAG is co-ordinated by a Committee which is elected by the Members each year at the Annual General Meeting. Any adult Voting Member may stand for office on the Committee.

 

The RHFAG Constitution sets out full details of the Group and the decisionmaking process.

 

 

If you have a question which has not been answered here or elsewhere on the website,

please contact the RHFAG Secretary at ian@bertemcam.me.uk.

 

 

For information: In most years, we have an excavation period in the summer but as this is linked to the duration of specific projects, it may not be the case in every year. In the absence of an excavation, we would normally have a similar period of practical activities or post-excavation work.