THE society’s AGM was held on June 11. Chairman Mark Peryer reported on a very active year during which lectures on a wide range of topics and visits to places of interest were complemented by member participation in excavations at Basing House, Silchester and Stonehenge and in woodland surveys. Members also carried out site maintenance work at Odiham Castle and at the Basing House fishponds in support of the Friends of Ancient Monuments scheme.

The year also saw the successful publication of The Making of Basingstoke, which has now gone into a second print run.

The AGM was followed by a talk given by David Allen, of Hampshire County Museums Service, about the results of the excavation of the West Gate of Basing House, on which the society members worked as volunteers, during the period May 11 to 29.

The excavation re-examined a feature that was last uncovered in 1904 in order to obtain further knowledge of its structure and function and to prepare the way for improved access to the centre of the site.

Both objectives were achieved due to the very favourable weather conditions which generally prevailed throughout the period and which enabled work to be carried out without serious interruption.

Finds, as expected, were limited to minor artefacts dateable to the Tudor period. However, the excavation revealed in some detail the remains of a roadway that ran westwards from the house, crossing the former bridge over the dry moat.

On the eastern side, the extent of maintenance and remodelling was evidenced by the discovery of three surface levels while on the western side a cobbled surface marked an angled planned approach to the garden. These findings have gone some way to confirm the appearance of an important feature of Basing House before the Civil War hitherto only evidenced from a single engraving made at the time of the 1645 siege.

This meeting was the last before the summer break until September. The visit to Hadrian’s Wall took place during the period June 19-23 and there will be the usual annual visit to the Silchester excavations on Thursday, July 30.