The Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology is the product of a series of amalgamations dating from 1965. 2009 saw the most recent one, with FLARE joining and enhancing the Archaeology Team of SLHA.
How FLARE began
FLARE was established in 1977 at the suggestion of Dr. Kathleen Kenyon, the famous archaeologist of the Near East, who was, at the time, Chair of the Lincoln Archaeological Trust. One of the earliest initiatives was teaching materials on local archaeology. An exhibition of these in 1978 was opened by the city’s then MP, Margaret Jackson (later Beckett).
The continuing programme has been the highly regarded lecture series of archaeological talks by national and international speakers which have broadened the knowledge and experience of members. We have been pleased that many archaeologists have visited Lincoln to share their expertise.
Among other activities organised by FLARE were training schemes using government funding to help young people equip themselves with some skills. The first was from 1978 to 1984. It involved training diggers as well as publishing aids for schools, including Children's Guides to both Roman Lincoln and Lincoln Castle, both of which are still in print.
A later one was through FLARE Projects, Ltd., a company set up with the aid of the City Unit and employing between 20 and 30 young people between 18 and 25 years of age with full time training opportunities. Some worked in the city of Lincoln but others were transported to excavation sites across the County. One highly productive site was the Romano-British site at Sapperton.
The City Archaeology Unit
Lincoln City Council bought The Lawn complex when it closed as a mental hospital in 1985 and the former nurses' home, Charlotte House, was converted into the headquarters of the City Archaeology Unit. One of the ground floor rooms became, in 1990, an archaeology exhibition with hands-on displays to explain archaeological terminology and practices as well as highlighting the archaeology of the city.
FLARE members became the custodians of the centre for the first part of its life and manned the rota each day seven days a week. This dedication proved sufficient to cause the City Council to eventually employ staff for this popular attraction, which welcomed 40,000 visitors in its first year.
A large replica Roman amphora near the door acted as a donation box to this free entry facility giving FLARE a start on funding projects within the City. Some went to help research into the City’s past but much went into publications to educate young and old about the City’s stories.
The centre closed its function when The Collection museum opened in 2005 and absorbed its educational and hands-on activities.
A purely parochial outlook has never been on the agenda as the lecture programme shows. Arranging visits both national and international has been an essential part of the annual routine. There have been regular day visits to sites of archaeological significance as well as week-end and week-long stays across England and Wales and countries in Western Europe.
It is hoped that with the enlarged Archaeology Team working alongside the Local History and Industrial Archaeology Teams, we look forward to a new era where involvement in practical projects is high on the agenda and members across the County can participate.
Excavations at St Paul in the Bail
in the area of the Roman forum