Founded in 1955, the Enfield Archaeological Society is active in carrying out research and fieldwork in and around the London Borough of Enfield, in order to understand and preserve its history.
Our main aims are: to promote the practice and study of archaeology in the district; to record and preserve all finds in the borough and encourage others to allow their finds to be recorded by the Society; and to co-operate with neighbouring societies with similar aims.
Membership is open to anybody with an interest in the past.
The Enfield Archaeological Society is affiliated to the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society; the President for the society is Harvey Sheldon BSc, FSA, FRSA
All members of the society over the age of 16 are welcome to dig with us – no experience is necessary. We typically run at least one dig a year in the summer, on the site of Henry VIII's Elsyng Palace with other work often cropping up through the rest of the year.
We have finally reached the end of our Tudor Palace contribution to the Stories of Enfield project
and I am pleased to say that it has been a great success with both publications now available and
selling quite well while all the other aims of the project were fully accomplished.
When this all began over 18 months ago, we did wonder if we had bitten off more than we could chew
with a mixture of public and educational events, oral history and film making plus the publication
of both an academic and a popular work all built around our annual Elsyng Palace excavation.
We would not have been able to succeed in all this without the extraordinarily hard work running the
overall project carried out by Jan Metcalf and Judith Stones.
Their experience of such events plus their local knowledge and contacts brought everything together
and steered the whole project to its successful conclusion.
On behalf of the Society and also of the many local citizens touched by different aspects of the project,
I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation for everything they did.
Thanks also to Martin Dearne for the academic report and for running the dig under somewhat different
circumstances than usual.
Particular thanks also to Neil and John Pinchbeck for creating the wonderful popular account of the history,
archaeology and excavation of the site from its origins to the summer of this year (out now! - Ed.).
A short film about our 2022 annual excavation on the site of Elsyng, Enfield's lost Tudor Palace in the grounds of Forty Hall, made by Footpath Films and funded by The National Lottery Heritage fund as part of the Stories of Enfield project is now available to watch online: see below and enfarchsoc.org/elsyng
Come and learn about 14 incredible stories exploring elements of Enfield's
heritage, history, and identity - from river communities, stained glass windows in
Southgate and Bangladeshi migration through to London's only vinyard and
Edmonton's boxing bishop, and of course the Tudor royal palace of Elsyng,
which we excavated this summer.
Locations and dates (free entry):
August 29 - September 13 - Edmonton Angel Sterling Way
September 27 - October 11 - Forty Hall Courtyard
October 11 - October 25 - Palmers Green Broomfield Park
October 25 - November 15 - Edmonton Green Shopping Centre
As predicted, we finished backfilling and re-turfing (with what litte turf there was) and
had cleared the site by 11 o'clock this morning.
That concludes this year's exploration of Elsyng Palace - we came for the gatehouse and left
with a moat, and more unanswered questions, but we're used to this by now - one of the defining
characteristics of Elsyng is its unpredictability owing to the ad-hoc way in which it was built
and modified over several centuries. If we knew what we were going to find we wouldn't
need to dig it in the first place!
Post-excavation work will begin now, but we already have a list of targets in mind for next year,
probably beginning with another trench close to trench 4, to try and find out how far west the
outer courtyard's northern range of buildings extends, since we didn't find it as expected in trench 4.
We've also got our eyes on a large platform or mound not far away from this year's site, in the woods
to the west of the lime tree avenue, which may be another contender for a gatehouse location.
This would be pushing us further into the area of the inner courtyard, which is where the more high-status
buildings of the palace, such as the chapel and royal apartments would have been, so even if the inner gatehouse
continues to elude us, there's every chance of finding some new and exciting archaeology.
A big thank-you to all our diggers this year who braved the sunshine and didn't complain (too loudly)
about the lack of tangible structure in this year's trenches, and as ever a special thank-you to those
of you who mucked in with the less glamorous work including backfilling and lugging equipment up and down
the hill every day. Special thanks also to Forty Hall farm, for the loan of wheelbarrows and storage
space for our site gear on the farm.
This year's dig was funded by the Stories Of Enfield project,
organised by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Enfield Council,
to develop and deliver a range of creative community heritage activities across the borough,
and has helped us to reach a wide audience including local residents and schools,
and crucially has enabled us to publish our latest book Monarchs Courtiers and Technocrats.
A comprehensive history of the palace and people who owned and lived in it, the book also features
a complete technical publication of all the archaeological work we've done on the site since 2004 plus
a summary of the original work by the EAS in 1963-67 which rediscovered the palace site.
If you prefer a little lighter reading, we are also working on a smaller book, to be published later in
the year, which will include an account of this year's dig.