Once again, our winter programme was arranged in order to cater for all tastes, and we have been rewarded with excellent fare from speakers who have covered topics ranging in time from early prehistory to the Enlightenment and in space from Annandale to Anatolia.
The session opened with what might be described a 'swashbuckling' performance by Paul Macdonald of Macdonald Armouries, Edinburgh, who spoke about 'Swords and swordsmen in Scotland'. An expert fencer, and member of the British Federation for Historical Swordplay, Paul described - and demonstrated - the development of the sword and methods of fighting in Scotland from the 15th century onwards, and some of the colourful characters encountered en route.
In October, John Burnett, of the Department of Science & Technology in the the National Museums of Scotland, talked on 'Scottish Sports in the Time of Scott and Hogg'. John offered fascinating and often entertaining insights into a number of sports ranging from horse racing and curling to 'holiday sports', such as the Jedburgh Ba'Game and cockfighting.
In November, at what the Committee has decided will be the last of our meetings to be held in West Linton, Strat Halliday talked about the work of 'The RCAHMS in Eastern Dumfriesshire'. Strat emphasised that it is only by understanding the processes of landscape change right through time up to the present day that we can begin to explain patterns of site survival and loss.
This theme was touched on again by Strat's colleague from the Royal Commission, Piers Dixon, who talked in February on Rural settlement in southern Scotland. Both of their talks provided much food for thought for those engaged in our current survey projects - and we will be seeking their expert views on some of our findings in due course!
Back in January, the first meeting of the New Year, had seen Richard Gilanders speaking on Leadhills and Wanlockhead. Richard expertly set these crucially important industrial landscapes in their geological and historical context - offering those who had been on the previous year's field trip a chance to refresh their memory, and those who were not an opportunity to see just what they had missed!
In March, Lionel Masters of the Department of Adult & Continuing Education, University of Glasgow, took our minds off the final flings of the Scottish winter with a memorable talk on Turkey, in which he described specifically two crucially important sites - the Neolithic settlement mound at Catal Huyuk and the capital city of the Hittites at Hattusas. [They may not be on next year's list of field trips...but just be patient!!]
Finally, to close our current lecture programme, following the April AGM, we look forward to hearing Graeme Warren from Edinburgh University speak on the subject of the Mesolithic in Eastern Scotland.
Next session's programme is in the process of being finalised but some dates for your diaries will be found on the final page of this newsletter. As always, suggestions for possible topics and/or speakers are always welcome.This is also a suitable point at which to remind you that a brief report on every lecture is submitted to the Peeblesshire News courtesy of Bob Knox. This provides the ideal basis for a historical record of the activities of the Society in the future - and our thanks go to the PN for providing us with a very useful noticeboard for our activities in the form of their Club News pages.
Two field trips were undertaken last year to Wanlockhead/Leadhills and the Carrifran Valley. These have been described in a previous issue of PAST (see September 2000), but our thanks go once again to Richard Gilanders and Fi Martynoga respectively for acting as guides.
In December members of PAS joined forces with a party from Biggar to visit the Heaven and Hell Exhibition in the Royal Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
In addition to the lecture programme and field trips, there have been several opportunities for members to get involved in active fieldwork- particularly in the survey work that has been proceeding in Upper Tweeddale and in the excavations at Brownsbank Farm, both led by Tam Ward, and also in our new project in Eddleston where field survey has started in earnest, co-ordinated by Bob Knox.
The Eddleston field survey will be complemented by informal training sessions aimed at introducing the group to other aspects of fieldwork, such as artefact analysis. In January, we were grateful to Kevin MacLaren of the RCAHMS for making the vertical aerial photographs of the parish available for inspection. In February, Graeme Warren very kindly led a seminar on lithics, providing a basic introduction to the recognition of the range of chipped stone flakes and tools that we are likely to encounter in arable fieldwalking. More such sessions are planned.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, all field-based activities have had to be put on hold due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. But on a more positive note, an extremely generous award of a research grant of £1000 from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland means that the project can go forward with a strong funding base. In particular, the society will be able to acquire its own survey gear.
Under the watchful eyes of Bob Knox, the society monitors planning proposals where there is a potential archaeological interest, registering our concerns with Scottish Borders Council when necessary.
This year the Society has been involved in two main events aimed at promoting archaeology to the wider public, especially children. In August, the Society joined forces with Biggar Museum Trust to man the archaeological 'Touch Table' as part of the Peebles Arts Festival. Now virtually a fixture in the Festival programme, the event unfortunately had to be held within the Chambers Institution instead of the Quadrangle due to the weather. Nevertheless, a very successful day was had, with over 100 visitors - well in excess of the museum's usual figure for a Saturday.
Just over a week later, on Sunday 3rd September, over 100 people came to the 'Iron Age house' in Glentress Forest to get 'In touch with the Past', the Society's contribution to Scottish Archaeology Month, in conjunction with Forest Enterprise and Borders Forest Trust. Unlike the previous Saturday, this event was blessed with sunshine.
Over the course of the year, grant applications were submitted for funding to permit us to develop an outreach programme to promote greater awareness of archaeology in Tweeddale. All three applications that we submitted were successful, resulting in generous awards of £4000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (through its Awards for All Programme), £500 from the Russell Trust and £500 from the Woodroffe Benton Foundation.
One way or another, the society offers a range of opportunities for enjoying archaeology and satisfying your interest in 'the past' - so whether its by taking part in fieldwork, by helping out at activity days and other events, or simply by coming along to talks, please continue to support PAS!
Finally the chairman's thanks go to all the members of the Committee for all their efforts during the year, particularly the office bearers, Bob Knox (Secretary), Peter Barclay (Treasurer) and Ian Brown (Vice Chairman) and Peggie Ferguson (Book sales). Fergus Brown, WS, kindly examined the Society's accounts.Thanks also go to everyone who has helped out at events held over the course of the year.