Subject Bedfordshire Local History Association Annual Conference
June Barnes & Clive Dakin
June 18, 2016


The BLHA conference was hosted by SLHG as part of their 10 year anniversary.

The keynote speaker was Professor Carenza Lewis from Lincoln University. Her talk was a reflection of several community based programmes run whilst she has been in Cambridge. The HEFA project which included test pits in Sharnbrook has been extended to include Riseley. The analysis of all sites across East Anglia shows that pottery distribution can be used as a measure of the impact of the plague on a regions population. 90% of the excavated settlements show a post-14th century decline in pottery-yielding sites, an estimate shows an average decrease of 44% in many villages across the central area. This work is now being extrapolated to Lincolnshire and other School Projects.pottery decline









June Barnes then gave an update on the Medieval story of Sharnbrook using the test pit data from HEFA and our community digs plus recent findings from excavations outside the earthwork. Radiocarbon dating of seeds and pottery finds indicate the newly found malting kiln to be contemporary with the earthwork features.


Dorothy Jamieson used a timeline approach and hearth tax data to describe her research on Willington’s history. Will she ever find the missing manor house which was the 20th largest house in the county?


Neslyn Pearson gave a full description of the processes used to collect and collate date for their oral history study within Queen’s Park.


Colin Watt then reported on a comparative study of census data for Sharnbrook and Clophill. This was suggested as a future model for other BLHA members.


Des Hoar closed the conference with a review on his research on Policing in North Bedfordshire. The latest phase includes a detailed analysis of petty session cases heard at the Bletsoe/Sharnbrook court between 1841 and 1911. The analysis included patterns of crime and sentencing across the study period. A particular focus was given to the crimes of Poaching and the Theft of Boots and Shoes.

Prior to lunch the delegates were invited to inspect the Castle Close site and to have ‘hands on ‘ at surveying with a dumpy level and shovel pitting.


TheSLHG Day1 celebration of the Group’s 10 year anniversary was reflected in the Timeline which showed the extent of our activities over that period.