Meeting Report July 2013

Real treat for FONC members at this month’s meeting with Tim Upson Smith of Northampton Archaeology talking about the recent Castle Station dig.

Castle Station Dig

Tim Upson Smith, the supervising archaeologist on the March-June dig at the station, very kindly came along to our meeting and briefed members ahead of the forthcoming report. His entertaining talk created a vivid picture of the site from the late Anglo-Saxon period to the thirteenth century. Just below the carpark tarmac surface were the remains of the Victorian Railway Station cobbled yard; below that remains of a twelfth century building in what would have been the castle’s outer bailey area; and beneath the castle era remains evidence of late Saxon occupation. Tim described the various finds and environment samples that are currently being analysed and dated. It was exciting and pleasing to note that the original Victorian mapping of the castle remains made just before the area was levelled for the rail station seems to be spot on. This bodes well for determining further digs in the area. The dig confirmed that there are castle remains just below the surface and it also furthered knowledge on the earlier Saxon town.

Joe led the thanks and appreciation of the whole group to Tim for his riveting talk. FONC members look forward to viewing the full report on the castle station dig when it is available.

Events Diary 2013 update

  • Big Dig Introduction Day: Saturday 13th July -2pm St. Peter’s Church
  • Public land digs: Saturday 20th July – 9am front of & 2pm rear of Western View by Chalk Lane carpark.
  • Public land digs: Saturday 27th July- 9am front of Castle Hill Church & 2pm Spring Boroughs pocket park.
  • Finds Days: Saturday 3rd & 10th August
  • Umbrella Fair Weekend 17th/ 18th August
  • National Heritage Weekend Thursday 12th September to Sunday 15th September – FONC will be conducting a daily guided tour of the Castle Heritage site; commencing from St. Peter’s church at noon on each day.
  • Heritage Fair Saturday 14th September 10am – 4pm

Big Dig
Jon briefed the meeting on further arrangements for the Big Dig. He announced that public land digs would take place on the two following Saturdays (see diary) after the Information Day on the 13th July. Members were asked to attend the Information Day to be briefed and shown where these digs would take place.

Umbrella Fair
Frustratingly, since Ian Bates had invited FONC at the March meeting to participate at the Umbrella Fair, no further details had been forthcoming despite requests for confirmation that there would indeed be a local history marquee. Philip hoped to meet up with Ian after the meeting and would quiz him on the situation. Julia had spoken to someone who had attended the Fair last year and gathered that it would be necessary to set up and dismantle the stand each day. Therefore it was decided that if this was the case then FONC would only attend on the Saturday. Julia would contact members who had volunteered to assist at the Umbrella Fair regarding course of action once details had been ascertained.

Promotional Resources
Sanaa has been busy producing FONC colouring sheets which with the double sided jigsaw, that he showed us at the last meeting, he has loaned to the Museum Service (ensuring full accreditation to FONC) for a fun day at the Abington Park site in August and also for use at an exhibition at the town museum during the school holidays.

He has also had discussions with NVision at the University of Northampton, who assisted in the 3D animation of the Castle, with a view to improve the animation even further and also the possibility of producing a digital version of the jigsaw. Sanaa added that these proposals would need to be costed and funded and that NVision were keen to be associated with FONC to help obtain funding for future development work. NVision had also suggested that FONC could host an event at their 3D Visualisation Centre using their Active Cube for a walk-in experience of the castle.
Sanaa was thanked by the group for all his hard work.

2014 events to celebrate the trial of St. Thomas Becket at Northampton Castle

Now that arrangements are in place for the Masque Theatre to perform the Anouilh play Becket for a five day run at the Guildhall, during the actual week in October 2014 that marks the 850th anniversary of the trial at Northampton Castle, Paul reported that the next step was to seek sponsorship for the programme. Together with the Masque Theatre, FONC would be compiling a list of local businesses and organisations to approach who may wish to be associated with the celebration of this famous historic event. Members were requested to give Paul any suitable contact details.

Marie reported that as part of the Heritage Gateway Project team, she and Graham Callister (the Cultural Policy and Planning Officer at Northants County Council) are currently working on a bid to the Lottery Heritage Fund for a Becket event around St Peter’s and the Castle site; something similar to the SHINE project involving light and sound. The bid would include provision for the appointment of a project manager to coordinate the event. This would be a joint application by FONC and the NCC, linked with an educational package, and her suggestion that the Friends of St. Peter’s should also be included given the proposed venue for the event was approved.

The George Row Business Club

FONC had received an invitation to attend The George Row Business Club’s forthcoming networking event on Thursday 18th July 5.30pm-7.30pm. The theme for the evening being ‘All things local’ to help support various local businesses ‘Buy Local’ campaigns. Both Howard and Jon volunteered to attend and network on behalf of FONC.

Date and Venue of Next Meeting

It was agreed not to have a meeting in August.
The next meeting will be held at 6pm on Friday 6th September at the Old Black Lion Pub.

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