Egyptologist’s Notebooks. 150 150 SGSocAdmin

Egyptologist’s Notebooks.

The lectures are held on Friday evenings commencing 7.30 p.m. The lectures running through the autumn of 2021 will be held at Spalding Methodist Church in Broad Street, directly opposite our museum. Admission will be £3.00 per person. We ask that only people who are fully vaccinated or have passed a recent clear Covid test should attend in person. We plan to live stream the lectures using the Microsoft Teams platform for the benefit of those unwilling or unable to attend at the venue. Booking will required to access the stream at the same cost, £3.00.

To attend online please book through Art Tickets by clicking

Available online events will be published on Art Tickets 7-10 days before the event

Musings from the Museum 20 150 150 SGSocAdmin

Musings from the Museum 20

Who were the Spaldingas?

Detail from original map by John Grundy 1732.

The name Spalding is first recorded in Domesday Book (DB) in 1086 as Spallinge. During the next couple of centuries it was variously recorded as Spaldingis, Spaldinges, Spalingisand Spallinges. Few have doubted that the present-day name of the town is related in some way to that of a group called the Spalda mentioned in an early tribute list known as the Tribal Hidage. But the relationship between the two may not be as straightforward as is sometimes assumed.

The groups listed in the Hidage occupied lands which were within, or owed tribute to, the Kingdom of Mercia. It seems to reflect a relatively early stage of organisation around the time of the Heptarchy, probably in the late 7th or early 8th century, and certainly before the Viking invasions, although it is only preserved in much later manuscripts from the 11th century onwards, presumably out of antiquarian interest. The groups are listed in broadly clockwise order starting in the north-west, and following the logic of this order the Spalda would have occupied an area some way to the south of Spalding. There is a related place-name, Spaldwick, in Huntingdonshire, but others occur in Nottinghamshire (Spalford) and the East Riding of Yorkshire (Spalding Moor and Spaldington). How could one otherwise obscure group of people have made an impression over such a wide area?

If we allow our imagination to run, we can visualise a single clan group setting out on the perilous voyage from present-day Holland, Germany or Denmark, across the North Sea towards the east coast of England where they are looking for a better life in a more fertile land. They have set sail in a flotilla of small boats, trusting to the god Thunor to grant them safe passage without adverse weather, but nearing the coast of Lindsey they hit a storm. The boats lose contact with one another, and each makes for the nearest safe haven it can find. One group eventually reaches the Wash, and heads upstream along the Welland and the Great Ouse. The other is driven north and finds safety in the mouth of the Humber, from where the boats make their way inland and up the Ouse into the heart of Yorkshire, or along the Trent into present-day Nottinghamshire.

But as committed seekers after truth, let’s consider the hard evidence. In the Hidage, the Spalda are assessed as being in possession of 600 hides, a hide being traditionally the amount of land needed to support a peasant family. The area of a hide would naturally vary according to the productivity of the land, and the figures given in the Tribal Hidage appear to be indicative of status, rather than the product of accurate surveying. The Kingdom of the West Saxons, by contrast, was reckoned at 100,000 hides. The Spalda are never heard of again, and were not destined to leave their mark on early medieval history. What can we say, then, about the origin of their name?

Spalding and Spaldington both incorporate the plural suffix –inga or -ingas, which in early usage generally seems to indicate ‘people of’, ‘followers of’ or ‘descendants of’. It is often found in conjunction with a personal name as first element, although in this case no such personal name is known from the Germanic world. But two of the place-names we have mentioned, Spaldwick and Spalford, do not follow this pattern. Spaldwick is first recorded in DB as Spalduice, with other early forms such as Spaldewic and Spaldewik. Spalford in DB is Spaldesforde. In both cases the first element seems to have had the suffix –es, which is genitive singular and therefore cannot be from the plural tribal name Spalda, a point which does not seem to have been widely registered by place-name scholars. In these cases we must look for another meaning, and we must consider that these may be derived from spald as a topographical term, rather than having anything to do with the tribal name, even though Spaldwick is suggestively close to the implied location of the Spalda in the Tribal Hidage.

Some of the references in the Tribal Hidage are suggestive not of tribes or clans, but descriptive names based on locations, for instance the Pecsaetna, ‘Peak-dwellers’, and the Wrocensaetna, ‘dwellers near the Wrekin’. In Old English, spald can mean either ‘spittle, spit’ or, by deduction from Old High German spalt, a ‘ditch, trench’. One of the greatest place-name scholars, Eilert Ekwall, suggested that spald could be used as the name of a stream or river, and believed that a lost river-name Spald may lie behind some of the names in this group. Spaldingas would then indicate ‘dwellers by the Spald’. Another group mentioned in the Hidage, the Gifla, were named from, or gave their name to, the River Ivel. The conjunction with ford in Spalford certainly indicates a riverine location. The Anglo-Saxons generally used topographical terms in a very precise way, so could we be dealing with a small number of settlements characterised by reference to a particular type of nearby water-course? Could the Spaldathemselves have taken their name from a river, or perhaps a canal, in their continental homeland?

We can probably take the evidence no further than this. It’s in the nature of place-name studies that searching for certainty often feels like grasping at smoke. But the quest for origins so often throws up new information in unexpected areas, and each new generation of scholars strives to consider the evidence afresh without the burden of old assumptions. And there’s always the remote chance that, somewhere in a dusty attic, lies a battered and forgotten manuscript …


                        ‘Could this cremation urn have contained the remains of a member of the Spaldingas?’

Dr Martin Blake

August 2021

The Voyage of HMS Beagle 150 150 SGSocAdmin

The Voyage of HMS Beagle


The lectures are held on Friday evenings commencing 7.30 p.m. The lectures running through the autumn of 2021 will be held at Spalding Methodist Church in Broad Street, directly opposite our museum. Admission will be £3.00 per person. We ask that only people who are fully vaccinated or have passed a recent clear Covid test should attend in person. We plan to live stream the lectures using the Microsoft Teams platform for the benefit of those unwilling or unable to attend at the venue. Booking will required to access the stream at the same cost, £3.00.

To attend online please book through Art Tickets by clicking

Available online events will be published on Art Tickets 7-10 days before the event

‘Picture Quiz’ Results 150 150 Dave Jacobs

‘Picture Quiz’ Results

The latest Spalding Gentlemen’s Society ’Picture Quiz’ has now closed, and the results are in.

Many thanks to all those that took part, a total of £132 was raised, which is a great achievement.

A special thank you to all those that sent in a donation as well.

The three prize winners were as follows.

1st Prize: J Baker of Chesterfield with 99 points.

2nd Prize: A Ashenhurst of Exeter with 98 points.

The £5 random prize went to E Collier of Frome.

All entrants who supplied an email have been contacted, and all SAE’s have been posted, and the winners notified.

I hope you all enjoyed the challenge, I understand this one was a bit tough, sorry about that.

Kind regards,


SGS Member

Charity No. 216131

Stukeley Memoirs Project Volume 2 150 150 Dustin Frazier Wood

Stukeley Memoirs Project Volume 2

SGS is pleased to release Volume 2 of William Stukeley’s Memoirs of the Royal Society.

Volume 2 spans the period from to April 1742, when Stukeley ‘quitted [his] house in Glocester street, & retired,  for alltogether, to Stamford’. Yet in February 1748 he returned to London as Rector of St George the Martyr in Queen Square. Stukeley would remain in London until his death in 1765.

William Stukeley’s drawings of two ancient Egyptian urns carved in the figures of Isis and Osiris

Among the notable topics in Volume 2 are the early horological works of Benjamin Harrison; the discovery of the polypus or hydra; and a prototype canon capable of firing 20 balls in quick succession, a precursor of the machine gun. Volume 2 also introduces readers to the important but short-lived Egyptian Society, of which Stukeley was an associate member.

We hope you enjoy reading Volume 2.

The Editors

Dr Dustin M. Frazier Wood, SGS Librarian

Dr Mandy Topp, u3a Research and Shared Learning Coordinator (East Midlands)

Musings from the Museum 19 150 150 SGSocAdmin

Musings from the Museum 19


The Enemy having invaded the Coast of Lincolnshire


This poster dates from about 1914 and was obviously never used, but it shows us that the nation feared invasion then, just as in the Second War, and had made preparations.  We have 15 of these unused posters in the collection and 116 pages of documents showing the local plans for dealing with an invasion. Included are the names of all the Committee members and Special Constables, which feature surnames still familiar in the area.

The County Lord Lieutenant was charged with forming a small Central Organising Committee (COC) under the Chief Constable, including an Army officer representing the military.   In Lincolnshire, each Petty Sessions Division formed a Local Emergency Committee (LEC) under the Chairman of the Bench. In turn the LEC organised sub-committees for each District.   All Committee members were sworn in as Special Constables, thus bringing them under control of the Police.  18 sub-committees were formed in South Holland and 112 Special Constables recruited.

These Special Constables lived near road junctions and were to direct traffic, being issued with a map showing the main roads, which were reserved for military use, and the minor roads to be used for civilian traffic.  Each Parish had a defined route for evacuation, all leading towards Leicester.  Other areas of Lincolnshire were to evacuate to Nottingham, via Lincoln & Grantham. This meant that there had to be LECs for inland counties too, to plan for this influx of refugees.  

Somewhat naively, the initial official line in 1914 was ‘unauthorised movements should not take place, owing to the risk of the movements of our troops being impeded, and the hardships that fugitives would endure.’  This seems to assume set piece battles between opposing forces rather than hand-to-hand skirmishing in villages & towns, also it ignores widespread publicity about the brutal treatment of the Belgian population, which was bound to cause fear and panic in the face of an invasion.  

As well as controlling civilian movements, the LEC had to make plans for impeding the enemy advance.   Horses and carts were to be removed to Sleaford, animals were to be dispersed and driven out onto the fens, tool dumps and labouring gangs arranged for destruction of bridges, piers and barges.  Any transport that could not be moved to be disabled (e.g. by removal of wheels); petrol stocks to be burnt; money & documents removed from banks and Post Offices; Water, Gas and Electric Works to be disabled by their engineers.

Everything was in place by early 1915, culminating in a meeting of LECs at the Guildhall Nottingham to confirm arrangements for refugees.

The flurry of memos from Whitehall seems to ease in 1915 and we have only a few documents from  1916 & 1917.   Then, on 28th March 1918, Major General Hay of Eastern Command writes to the Lincs COC : ‘Reports have reached this office that…the emergency measures, once doubtless completely organised, have either been allowed to lapse, or remain in a very incomplete condition’.  The Germans had launched their Spring Offensive on the Western Front and this had renewed invasion fears.

The LEC plans are brought up-to-date and become more comprehensive.  A sequence of 20 potential alert levels are laid out, with secret telegraphic codes for use between the Military & LECs, e.g. “ALERT DEFAREA” – Hold yourself ready; “BREEZE DEFAREA – The enemy have invaded the coast; with further codes to trigger the various planned measures, culminating in the reassuring  “WARMTH DEFAREA” – Assure civilian population all danger is now over, resume normal conditions.

Official guidance on refugees had changed: ‘It will be impossible to expect the population to remain where a town comes under actual bombardment…it is always possible that a large number of the inhabitants may take to flight though no danger is imminent, and in spite of the advice to remain in their homes.  The inhabitants should be advised to take with them none of their property except their money, sufficient clothing and as much food that they can contrive to carry. A certain quantity of biscuits and cocoa, to provide two meals, has been placed at the disposal of COCs at distributing depots not less than 12 to 15 miles inland’.    Public notices advised – on notification by the Police – ‘IMMEDIATELY start your horses and vehicles on the road to Sleaford.  Bear in mind, and tell your neighbours, that to do this is to save their horses and carts from being seized by FOREIGNERS WHO WILL NEITHER PAY FOR THEM NOR RETURN THEM.  Don’t wait to load your carts, the foreigners won’t touch your furniture.’

This heightened state of alert remained right through 1918. As late as 23rd October, the Chief Constable wrote warning LECs that precautions for home defence ‘were never more necessary than now’.

Following the Armistice there were a number of letters from the authorities thanking all concerned for their work.  Finally, on 22nd Dec 1918, a final meeting of the Spalding LEC was called at the Sessions House and a group photograph was taken.

We have these posters and documents because the Chairman of the Magistrates Bench, and thus Chairman of the LEC was Fitzalan Howard, a member of the Society who, in 1918, became our President and remained so until his death in 1932.  He lived with his wife, 4 children and 4 servants in Holyrood House, a fine mansion next door to Ayscoughfee Hall.  In 1950 Holyrood House was suggested as a new home for the Society but the finance could not be found, so the house was demolished in 1953.  The Society has an album of photographs showing the demolition.

by J. Bowkett

Musings from the Museum 18. 150 150 SGSocAdmin

Musings from the Museum 18.


A Tale of Four Rivers                                                                      

 An article by Dr Martin Blake                                                                                                             

    Our corner of South-East Lincolnshire, the area historically known as Holland, is largely defined by its relationship to water, and in particular to four rivers which flow into the Wash, namely the Witham, the Glen, the Welland and the Nene.

Some rivers are believed to retain the oldest names surviving in our landscape. Most can be identified as deriving from known Celtic, Old English (Anglo-Saxon) or Old Norse words, but there is a significant corpus of river-names which, philologists assure us, cannot be related to any known language. These, it is assumed, date back to an era before the arrival of Celtic speakers in these islands, in other words to the Bronze Age or before, when we can only characterise the language spoken here, of which we know nothing, as early Indo-European.

These names can also be shared across huge areas. The River Don which gives Doncaster its name appears to derive from a root also found in the River Don in Russia, and even the Danube. It’s also a relatively modern convention that rivers maintain the same name along the entirety of their course. Parts of the Great Ouse in medieval times shared the name of the Severn and the Thames, the latter fossilised in the settlement name of Tempsford. The name of the village of Pinchbeck, ‘stream with minnows or with finches’, suggests that it was transferred from an early name for that section of the Glen.

Rivers tend to change their course over time due to geological and other factors. The Witham flows in part along a course taken by the River Trent before the last Ice Age, when it flowed through central Lincolnshire into The Wash. The Nene now has two courses, the Old and New, from where it was canalised centuries ago to aid navigation. Rivers also tend to silt up over time, the Welland being a case in point: its present-day lower course, on the whole unimpressive, belies Spalding’s status as a port for sea-going vessels until a couple of centuries ago.

So, let’s examine in detail the names of our four rivers:

Witham  The earliest known forms are Withma from about 1000, Wythum and Whithum from the early 12th century, and Widme from 1147. It falls into the category of river-names which cannot be related to any Celtic or Germanic element, and may well therefore  belong among the pre-Iron Age names mentioned above.

Glen  aqua de Glenye 1276, Glen 1365, le Glene 1390. The name is shared with a river in Northumberland, and probably derives from an early Celtic (so-called Primitive Welsh) word *glen, meaning clean or clear (Modern Welsh glan).

Welland  Early forms are diverse: Vueolod c1000, Weland mid-12th century, Wailand 1199, Weiland1199. No satisfactory explanation has been put forward for the name, and again it may well be pre-Celtic.

Nene  to Nen in a 963 entry in one recension of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Neen later 12th century, Nene 1232 (from a 14th-century document). There is a River Neen in Shropshire/Worcestershire from the same root, suggesting that it is Celtic in origin, but the meaning is obscure. The name is famously pronounced ‘Nen’ through its upper course in Northamptonshire, but ‘Neen’ once it crosses the border into Cambridgeshire. This is purely a dialectal variation, and the latter is generally considered to be older.

Bibliographical note

The only single-volume work on river-names remains Eilert Ekwall’s English River-Names, published as long ago as 1928 (OUP). Despite its age, it is still acknowledged as a work of enormous erudition. More recent detailed studies are to be found in the volumes of the English Place-Name Survey, published by the English Place-Name Society (EPNS) based at the University of Nottingham. Unfortunately, the relevant volumes for our part of Lincolnshire are still in preparation, but will presumably be published over the next few years. In the meantime, an excellent introduction to Lincolnshire place-names generally, including its rivers, is Kenneth Cameron’s A Dictionary of Lincolnshire Place-Names (EPNS, 1998). There is a detailed discussion of river-names in their topographical context in chapter 15 of the same author’s English Place Names (B.T. Batsford, 1996).

New SGS Charity Quiz 150 150 Dave Jacobs

New SGS Charity Quiz

I have created a new quiz to help pass the time, and to continue exercising those little grey cells etc.

It is a ‘Picture Quiz’ with 100 questions.

Please email and you will be emailed a copy with instructions, or download a copy from the following link:

Picture Quiz

Please consider printing the pages back to back, to save on paper.

It is the usual £1 entry fee, a prize of £20 for first, £10 for second, and a £5 random prize, picked from all entries.

The closing date will be the 1st August 2021.

You will also be able to purchase a copy from Bookmark in Spalding.

Many thanks, happy quizzing.


SGS Lanternist

Fenland and Heritage Network April 2021 150 150 SGSocAdmin

Fenland and Heritage Network April 2021

Fenland Heritage Network_April 2021_V1.doc



The table below shows the contact information for the organisations involved in the Fenland Heritage. If any of the details are incorrect or you would like to provide more information then please email If there are any other group who would like to be added to the list or there are any errors then please get in touch.



Contact (email)

Ayscoughfee Hall

Medieval merchants house and local history museum.

Boston Hanse Group

History of the Hanseatic League in Boston

Chain Bridge Forge Museum

Blacksmiths museum and local history archive.

Cranwell Aviation Heritage Museum

Aviation and local history.

Deepings Heritage

Local history of the Deepings.

Fane Road Archaeology Group (FRAG)

Archaeology of Peterborough.


Archaeology of the Fenlands.

Fleet Delvers

Local history of Fleet and surrounding area.

Gosberton Local History Group

History of Gosberton and South Holland.

Heritage Lincolnshire

History and heritage of Lincolnshire.



Contact (email)


Holbeach Cemetery Chapels

Local history.


Louth Museum

History of Louth and surrounding area.


Peakirk Archaeological Survey Team (PAST)

Local history and archaeology of Peakirk.


Peterborough Archive Services

Archive of Peterborough records.


Pinchbeck Engine Museum

Industrial Archaeology.


Red Barn Creative

Heritage, creativity, craft and digital skills.


Sleaford Civic Trust

Heritage and history of Sleaford.


Sleaford Museum

Local history.


Spalding Cemetery

(Friends Of)

Local History


Spalding Gentlemens Society

Museum, archive and research hub for general/local history.


Spalding U3A History Group

General and local history.

David Lawson




Contact (email)

Strawberry Glass

Stained glass crafts.

Thorney Museum

Local history and heritage museum.

Trigge Library

Sixteenth century library.

Trues Yard Museum

Local history and heritage museum.

Welland Rivers Trust

Conservation, restoration and education.

West Deepings Heritage Group

Local history and heritage.

Wisbech and Fenland Museum

Local history of Wisbech and the Fenland

Stukeley Memoirs Project Volume 1 150 150 Dustin Frazier Wood

Stukeley Memoirs Project Volume 1

SGS is pleased to release the first volume of William Stukeley’s Memoirs of the Royal Society in an open access digital edition created by SGS and u3a members over the past year. Tremendous thanks go to the 36 volunteers who gave their time and energy to the project.

Title page of William Stukeley, Memoirs of the Royal Society, vol. 1

William Stukeley (1687-1765) was a physician, clergyman and antiquary, and one of the founders of what is now known as archaeology. Born in Holbeach, Stukeley was a long-time friend of Maurice Johnson and joined the SGS in 1722. Although Stukeley rarely attended SGS meetings, he remained a regular and active correspondent for the next four decades. Along with letters to Johnson and the SGS, he contributed books, sketches, specimens and the five manuscript volumes of the Memoirs.

Stukeley compiled the Memoirs to document the activities of the Royal Society, Britain’s premier scientific body. Covering the years 1740 to 1751, the Memoirs provide an entertaining first-hand account of a pivotal period in the history of science in Britain. As a narrative written for friends and fellow SGS members, they also provide insights into the politics and personalities of Britain’s scientific community.

Engaging, informative and often funny, Stukeley’s Memoirs allow us to imagine the early life of both the Royal Society and the SGS through the words and drawings of one of their most remarkable members.

We hope you enjoy reading Volume 1. Further volumes will appear on the SGS website over the coming months.

The Editors

Dr Dustin M. Frazier Wood, SGS Librarian

Dr Mandy Topp, u3a Research and Shared Learning Coordinator (East Midlands)