Abingdon Area Archaeology and History Society

Meetings Programme 2023-24

Welcome to our meetings page. Our year runs from September through till June.
Our monthly meetings are normally held in the Northcourt Centre, Northcourt Road, Abingdon OX14 1NS, at 7.45pm.
Visitors are welcome at our meetings - suggested donation £3. 

Past Lectures
Thursday 21st September 2023 

Cowley1CMartin Buckland: Cowley Concrete - A vanished Abingdon Industry

Cowley Concrete started in a garden shed 
in Cowley in the early 1920s but soon moved to Abingdon, Radley Road, where more plentiful gravel supplies were available to meet the increased demand for the products.  The company expanded over the years until finally closing down in 1970 having been taken over by Ameys some years earlier. There will be many illustrations of their products and of the pioneer pre-stressed concrete beam production process. There are several examples of their products to be seen locally.


Martin Buckland has been interested in Industrial Archaeology from the age of 4 when watching Great Western trains with his Dad at Iver where he was born. Nearly seven decades later he is involved with the Great Western Society at Didcot Railway Centre in the education team and as a tour guide. He leads walks in Abingdon along the historic and new sections of the Wilts & Berks Canal and he has recently added ‘The Rivers of Abingdon’ walk to the list. He volunteers at the Abingdon Museum in the education department explaining what life was like living on a narrow boat to primary school pupils. He is also a member of several local history societies.

Please note: This talk will be preceded by a short Annual General Meeting (AGM) 

  Thursday 19th October 2023 

Simon Townley: Chipping Norton and Area: Recent Work by the Victoria County History of Oxfordshire

Simon Townley has been County Editor of the Victoria County History of Oxfordshire (old county boundary) since 1996, and has worked on the histories of numerous towns and villages including Witney, Henley, Bampton, and Benson. This illustrated talk will focus on Chipping Norton on the edge of the Cotswolds, which forms the subject of the VCH's next volume (publication due 2024), and which was laid out as a planned 'new town' around the mid twelfth century, set on a hillside above the pre-existing church and Norman castle. The talk looks at its development from those early beginnings through to the twentieth century, exploring aspects of its buildings, economy and social history.

Chipping Norton 1

Chipping Norton 2










Chipping Norton market place c.1800 (Chipping Norton town Council)            Chipping Norton church and the adjacent castle site (Historic England 24482_025)

 Thursday 16th November 2023 

Andy Hood: The Roman Villa at Cholsey - Recent Excavations

Excavations at Celsea Place, Cholsey revealed multiple phases of archaeological activity, spanning the Bronze Age to Anglo Saxon period. Roman settlement within the site included a previously unknown ‘farmstead’ villa, which appeared to have been occupied throughout the Roman period. This talk will present the findings of the investigations, specifically the excavations within and around the villa, and it will attempt to situate the site within the wider contemporary landscape.

Andy Hood has over 20 years’ experience in commercial archaeology. He has managed archaeological projects throughout England and Wales and he has written numerous grey-literature, as well as publication reports. He is currently an Associate Director at Foundations Archaeology, with both fieldwork and office-based responsibilities.

aerial photo of cholsey excv phase 1C

open day at cholsey excv












    Aerial photo of Cholsey excavation phase 1                                                                                               Open Day at Cholsey excavation

Thursday 21st December 2023

Sean Callery: Christmas and the Cotswolds
‘Tis the season to be jolly knowledgeable about Christmas and some of its Cotswolds connections. My talk explains many Christmas customs, from Advent to Yule logs, including the three Cs - Cards, Carols and Crackers. Today’s Yuletide celebrations grew from a mixture of pagan customs, folklore and royal fashions. I also cover some Cotswold traditions and explain the Cotswolds background to one of our most famous Christmas songs.
Sean Callery is a qualified (Blue Badge) tour guide and has experience as a teacher, journalist and author.   He researched Christmas customs to support a guided walk at Christmas time, and found the topic so interesting that he explored it further to create this talk. 

Thursday 18th January 2024
Dave Townsend:
Singing from the Gallery in Oxfordshire - The Lost Church Music Tradition of the 18th and 19th Centuries 


West Gallery Music is a largely-forgotten genre of church music which flourished all over the English-speaking world from the early 1700s to the mid-nineteenth century. It was a tradition of vernacular music-making, performed and often composed by people of humble origins operating outside the mainstream of contemporary art music. Dave will describe its origins, development, gradual decline and present-day survivals with reference to local churches and communities, illustrating his talk with sound recordings.


Dave Townsend SingingC
Dave Townsend has been performing, researching and teaching west gallery music since the 1980s. He founded The Mellstock Band in 1986, and has since produced a series of benchmark recordings of west gallery and village band music from Thomas Hardy’s Wessex and beyond, as well as providing music for theatre productions, radio, film and television. He was the co-founder, with Gordon Ashman, of the West Gallery Music Association, of which he was for several years the Musical Director. He has presented workshops and classes all over Britain, Europe and America, and has published a series of books of west gallery repertoire. 

Thursday 15th February 2024 
February 2024Amanda Ingram: The History of Pembroke College Oxford and its Abingdon Connection

Description: Pembroke College archivist, Amanda Ingram, takes us through the history of Pembroke College, from its foundation in 1624 to its 400th anniversary this year. She will explain the development of the College site and reveal some of the significant characters from Pembroke’s past. We will also hear about Pembroke’s connection to Abingdon which began with one of the College’s founders, Thomas Tesdale.

Biography: Amanda Ingram has been the Pembroke archivist since 2007. She was also archivist for St Hugh’s College but, in 2023, became dedicated to Pembroke. Amanda qualified in 2005 and has also worked at Kew Gardens and Freemason’s Hall in London.

Thursday 21st March 2024
Dr Zbigniew Wojnowski: Russia's War with Ukraine in a Historical Perspective

Description: This talk will address the historical origins of the current war. The main focus will be on the twentieth century, where the origins lie, but some references will be made to before and after the Soviet period.

Biography: Dr Zbig Wojnowski is an Associate Professor of Soviet History at St Antony's College, University of Oxford. His research has focused on interethnic relations and imperial dynamics in the USSR. Zbig's book entitled 'The Near Abroad: Socialist Eastern Europe and Soviet Patriotism in Ukraine' examines how the flow of people and ideas across borders shaped Ukrainian and Soviet identities after the death of Stalin. He has also published on identity politics in Crimea, the role of popular culture in the Ukrainian national project, and the impact of de-Stalinisation in the USSR’s Central Asian peripheries.

March 2024 1

March 2024 2










Thursday 18th April 2024
Mike Evans: The Fitzharry's Estate - from Medieval Knights to Atomic Spies
Description: This talk will describe the long history of the Fitzharry's Estate in north Abingdon, from the Norman Conquest to the creation of new homes for nuclear scientists in the twentieth century.

Biography: Mike Evans has lived on the Fitzharry's Estate for twenty years. Before he retired he was Head of the Historic England Archive in Swindon, responsible for over 12 million photographs and other records documenting the archaeology and architecture of England.

April 2024 1C

April 2024 2









 Thursday 16th May 2024 (The Lambrick Lecture 2024)


The annual Lambrick Lecture is kindly supported by George and Camilla Lambrick, in memory of Georges's mother, Gabrielle Lambrick. Gabrielle was a highly-respected local historian of Abingdon, and in 1968 she also helped to found what is now AAAHS.

Paul Booth: From Roman Britain to Early Anglo-Saxon England: Archaeological Evidence from Dorchester-on-Thames
 May 2024

Description: The causes and processes of the transition from late Roman Britain to what followed in the 5th and 6th centuries are complex and controversial. Dorchester has some of the best evidence in the region for these changes, though this is itself far from straightforward. Key data from the Discovering Dorchester Project excavations (2008-2018) will be summarised alongside other evidence, both old and more recent, from the environs of the town.  

Biography: Paul Booth was a Senior Project Manager at Oxford Archaeology for 30 years before his retirement in 2019. Amongst many other tasks he directed fieldwork for the Discovering Dorchester Project training excavation in the Dorchester allotments for the duration of that project. He has interests in a wide range of aspects of Romano-British archaeology, including settlement forms, burial, ceramics and coinage, often with a regional emphasis. He is particularly interested in the late Roman period, and his primary current concern is the post-excavation analysis of the Dorchester site. 

        Thursday 20th June 2024 
        Open Evening with short presentations by Society Members
    • Chris Brickwood: The 'Brunel Houses' at Steventon railway station 
    • David Clark: The Lodge at Orchard Lea, Boar's Hill
    • Roger Thomas: An Iron Age sword from the Thames at Abingdon