NETFLIX’S star-studded film The Dig highlights the exciting discovery of a great Saxon treasure at Sutton Hoo in 1939. A few years earlier in 1932 Winchester had its own moment of excitement when excavation at Oliver's Battery unearthed one of Hampshire's finest 'Dark Age' treasures, the Winchester hanging bowl. For many years it was held by the British Museum, but is now in the City Museum, Winchester.

The full story of its discovery by a local archaeologist can be googled and read in a Hampshire Field Club journal, because virtually all its papers are now online.

The bowl was found in the grave of a young man buried with a javelin and hunting sword and is decorated with red spirals and fittings in the form of aquatic birds. There are counterparts in seventh century Irish manuscripts. The archaeologist, W.J. Andrew, must have been delighted, but complained that the fabulous discovery has “almost completely obscured the original purpose of [the] tentative excavations”!

There are more than 60 volumes of HFC articles free online, spanning 1887-2017 and covering a huge range of topics. In addition, HFC members have free access to the latest articles via Oxford-based software giant Ingenta. And for allcomers, access on the web is advanced year by year. Originally entitled Proceedings, the main journal, was retitled Hampshire Studies in 1996.

Daily Echo: South front of Rookesbury House, Wickham. Image Rosemary Baird AndreaeRookesbury House

The flood of information now available on all almost any aspect of Hampshire’s heritage is one of the lasting achievements of the HFC. Soon to be added online is a 10-year run of the HFC Newsletter, full of articles on a wide variety of subjects.

Googling a topic plus ‘hampshire field club’ is often fruitful, but more systematic access is possible with an online index of more recent articles arranged by period, prepared by Emeritus Professor Tony King, whose works include British-Irish Archaeology – A Bibliographical Guide. Many older individual volumes are also indexed, as is Hampshire Studies every 10 years.

To take a subject at random from the hundreds available, in 1943 during the Second World War, as the British were winning battles against the Italians in North Africa, HFC readers were mulling over the activities of their Venetian ancestors in Southampton 400 or 500 years earlier.

Emphasising the importance of the port, the author, A.A. Ruddock, wrote colourfully: “Dark-skinned Spaniards and voluble Gascons mingled with the stolid Flemish merchants in the narrow, cobbled streets. Occasionally fair-haired seamen from Scandinavia came ashore, or German merchants from the Hanseatic League.”

Daily Echo: An architect’s datestone, Greenhill Road, Fulflood, Winchester An architect’s datestone, Greenhill Road, Fulflood, Winchester

The Hampshire Field Club started as a gentlemanly club of scholarly antiquarians who made field trips to study whatever they could find. The founding meeting on March 20, 1885, was held by T.W. Shore at the Hartley Institute, Southampton (forerunner of the university) with four others – three clergymen from Ropley, Swarraton and Fordingbridge and a member of the Geological Survey.

The full story is told by Beth Taylor in the 1988 Proceedings – available online, of course.

In 2015 the HFC took over the Hampshire Papers from the Hampshire Record Office. They are edited by former HFC chairman, Dick Selwood, who is working on a paper by Rosemary Baird Andreae on the Garniers of Rookesbury. They were a Huguenot family that came to England in 1648 when Protestants were thrown out of France at the Edict of Nantes.

Isaac Garnier became Apothecary General to the College of Chelsea and the family proceeded to acquire Rookesbury Park, Wickham. A descendant, Dean Thomas Garnier, gave his name to the garden in the Winchester Close.

Daily Echo: Thomas Garnier, Dean of Winchester, c.1840Thomas Garnier, Dean of Winchester, c.1840

Amongst other fascinating stories in Hampshire Papers is one by Gordon Daniels about a team of nurses and doctors from the Japanese Red Cross who came to England in 1914-15 to care for the sick and injured at Netley Hospital.

Netley Abbey features in a paper by Simon Sandall, John Hare and Cheryl Butler about the growth of Southampton as a spa town and the “Gothic tourism” inspired by ruined abbeys, with visits by Horace Walpole, Thomas Gray and others.

Eagle-eyed walkers in Greenhill Road, Winchester, may spot the datestone “T.M. 1880” on a house designed by architect, surveyor and drainage engineer Thomas Micklam. Architectural historian Judith Martin outlines his career in paper of great value to ‘detectives’ interested in the history of their own house.

Writing on HCC elections, 1889-1974, Roger Ottewill notes: “Miss Margery Portal, the little daughter of the candidate drove her donkey cart... with a banner inscribed ‘Please vote for father’”.

Daily Echo: Bevois Mount, Southampton - roads follow the earlier estate of the Earl of Peterborough. Image: HFC Proceedings, Vol. 5Bevois Mount, Southampton - roads follow the earlier estate of the Earl of Peterborough. Image: HFC Proceedings, Vol. 5

Other Hampshire Papers cover Florence Nightingale, squatters and social crime, memories of the Mayflower and the pioneering antiquarian Dr Joseph Stevens of St Mary Bourne. They may all be obtained from Julia Sandison: 01962 867490;

Commenting on the early years of HFC, Dick Selwood said: “The origin of the Field Club was in visits of very energetic Victorians to all sorts of places. In 1886 they visited Portsmouth and in one day did what would now take us three or four days!

“In an action-packed day, members heard about the workings of a naval torpedo range, local geology, prehistoric occupation on Portsdown Hill and the botany of Hornsea, with a lecture on Portchester castle by the Winchester Cathedral Architect.

“We are carrying out the job of publishing materials on all sorts of subjects to fulfil Article 1 of the Constitution. There is a hierarchy of outlets, starting with the Newsletter and going on to Hampshire Studies, then a Hampshire Paper and perhaps a monograph.

“The Ingenta arrangement means that our material is accessible by academics internationally, but for local historians the best way to access everything free is to join the Field Club!”

Articles published by the HFC are a wonderful source of information on a virtually every aspect of the history of the county. They are rich with little-known stories – deserted medieval settlements in Romsey, the medieval topography of Alresford, the progress in Hampshire of Elizabeth I, Hampshire and the East India Company.

There are articles on the Wadeway between Langstone village and Hayling Island, salt-making at Lymington, the Titchfield canal, Janson Winson a controversial Methodist, excavations at St Elizabeth’s College, Winchester, and much, much else.

In these Covid-dark days, the HFC pages are a great way to happily pass the time. And for members, there is even more.

For more, visit:, and