Digging in the 1960s. Professional rescue archaeology only took off in the 1970s. Before that, it was local societies and volunteer diggers who did much ofthe work. The small number of professional archaeologists who organised projects sometimes had funding for some labourers, but rarely enough. Above. Surrey members at work on a large Iron Age site close to the Brooklands race track near Weybridge in 1970. The site was about to be lost to gravel extraction. Note the Swinging Sixties site gear: hotpants and bare feet! Nowadays it is overalls, f1ashjackets, hard hats and steel toe-capped boots.
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The Surrey society had always undertaken fieldwork, but this reached a peak in the post-war period. It starred with a PostWar PlatUling Committee in 1943-45 led by Kathleen Kenyon atld resulting in the work in Sollthwark. This was rescue archaeology on bomb sites, vel)' much a featLIre of this period: a similat- bodv, the ROmatl atld Medieval London Excavation COlmcil, was at work north of the river lmder W. F. Grimes (and, such was the datnage to the City, it workcd non-stop, SIUlUner atld winter, from 1947 to 1962). As the pace of new development quickened during the 1960s and 1970s, the society was busier than at atlY time in its history working on other threatened sites. In fact, like local societies atld COllUllittees elsewhere, it was overwhelmed. There were dire predictions thar the nation's archaeological heritage would soon be destroyed withour major govenUllent intervention. The Surrey sociery played a cenual role in setting up professional rescue archaeology in Southwark and the counry generally. It appointed David Bird as colmty field officer in 1972: there were only 12 such appointments in the country at the time - the forerunners of today's county archaeologists and this was the only one linked to a society. And the Sourhwark Excavation Committee drove forwat·d the creation of local rescue wlits, some of which were evennrally absorbed into what is now MoLAS (Musewn of London Archaeology Service). More recently, because a local Roman temple site at Wanborough had been devastated by nighthawks (see CA167), the society played a central role in the agitation which led to the recent treasure act.
Above. The society also carried out a research excavation under Rosamund Hanworth on the site of a small RomanoBritish villa at Rapsley in 1961-68. The plan and reconstruction testify to the quality of subsequent publication. The 1960s saw a peak in the society's field activity, and this fed into the emergence of professional rescue archaeology in the county.