KENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY  -- RESEARCH   Studying and sharing Kent's past      Homepage

Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 70  1956  page 16
The Origin and First Hundred Years of the Society

By Frank W. Jessup, Honorary General Secretary   continued

spoken for some time." After the solid repast with which the members had just fortified themselves it seems likely that some part of the audience must have found the attractions of antiquarianism and of sleep nicely balanced during the reading of the papers. Perhaps this was why, at Rochester in 1887, the procedure was varied: "an amateur band discoursed sweet music; and at intervals papers were read."
   To give an account, of all the Annual General Meetings would be tedious; they are faithfully recorded in the volumes of Archaeologia Cantiana, and the records often make surprisingly interesting reading. If it would be tedious to give any detailed account of the Society’s early proceedings, it would certainly be misleading to suggest that they were always trivial, or intended to tickle the ears of the groundlings. Autres temps, autres moesurs; there is much that, to us, seems quaint and amusing in the behaviour of our members of a hundred years ago; let us hope that our conduct will seem no worse to our successors in the middle of the next century.
   For the Society, at the end of its first decade, could look back upon a solid and serious achievement. It was essentially an amateur achievement, in both senses, in that it was a labour of love, and that it was non-professional. Few of the 1,100 members which the Society numbered by 1868 (when it could claim to be the largest of the County Societies in the south-east; how egregiously wrong Bish Webb 

had proved!) made any pretension to a profound knowledge of archaeology, but their enthusiasm showed no abatement. It was thanks to the support of the many lay members that the erudite few who became prominent in the affairs of the Society were able to do so much to advance archaeological and historical learning in the county.
   Excavations, for example, were undertaken at a number of important sites, including Richborough, Horton Kirby and Sarre. The discoveries were reported in Archaeologia (Cantiana, and many of the objects found a permanent home in the Society’s collections at Maid-stone, including the magnificent finds from the Saxon cemetery at Bifrons, where, in 1867, Godfrey-Faussett, on behalf of the Society and with the permission of Lord Conyngham, opened more than one hundred Saxon graves, and Lord Conyngham’s gamekeeper opened as many more. "The whole charm of archaeology is in making discoveries—at least with most of our archaeologists," wrote Larking in a letter to Canon Robertson. This indeed was manifested in the nature of the Society’s activities, and modern scientific investigators may shudder at the muscular optimism of the Council’s exhortation, in 1872, that nothing was required "but an energetic member . . . to superintend the work of laying bare such treasures." For Larking "discovery" meant the discovery of archaeologica1 and historical truth, but for many of his contemporaries it meant, simply, the finding of objects of

Page 16 

Previous page   Back to Page listings    Next page

Back the Contents page   Back to Arch. Cant. List   Back to Publications On-line  Back to Research Page  Back to Homepage

Kent Archaeological Society is a registered charity number 223382
© Kent Archaeological Society 2003     

This website is constructed by enthusiastic amateurs. Any errors noticed by other researchers will be to gratefully received so
 that we can amend our pages to give as accurate a record as possible. Please send details too