The Huddersfield and District Archaeological Society was founded in 1956 and "actively studies, explores and records the archaeology of the Huddersfield area....covering prehistory, the Roman and mediaeval periods and the archaeology of the recent past."
Gerrie Brown, HDAS archivist, has prepared the following short history of the Society:
Antiquarians first took note of the Roman fort at Slack near Outlane in the 18th century and in 1863 a few gentlemen interested in archaeology formed a friendly group to discuss the feasibility of forming a society for the parishes of Kirkburton and Almondbury. The area of interest was soon extended to the entire Deanery of Huddersfield and this was confirmed in a public meeting on 8th July 1864 which established the Huddersfield Archaeological and Topographical Association. At a General Meeting of the Association on 5th June 1865 the area of interest was extended to include the south west part of the county of York. The main purpose of this meeting was to report on the fund raising that was to allow the successful excavation of the bath house and part of the Roman fort. In 1870 the area of interest was expanded to include all of Yorkshire and the name was changed to reflect this to Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Association and in 1893 to Yorkshire Archaeological Society. Then in 1896 the Society left its home town of Huddersfield and became established in Leeds where it still prospers under its latest 2016 title as the Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society.
After a gap of sixty years a later group of Huddersfield enthusiasts met in the Tolson Memorial Museum on 20th June 1956 determined to re-start active archaeology in the area to protect the known sites and explore new locations of historic and prehistoric interest.
So began the Huddersfield and District Archaeological Society and by the date of the first Annual General Meeting on 8th December 1956 the membership numbered 36 and the cash in hand was £3. 3s. 8d. Sixty years later there are substantial reserves in the bank, a thriving membership of over 120 and strong bonds with the Kirklees Young Archaeologists Club.
The President and officers of the Society are supported by a Committee who manage the activities which include excavations, a regular lecture series and occasional visits to sites of archaeological interest across the country. Participation in field work is encouraged and tuition and guidance is available for volunteers who may be new to the open air exercise of surveying, test pits and trenching. The summer season of 2016 had three separate sites under investigation and over the years more than thirty have been completed and reported.
It was the Myers Wood project of 2002-04 that first brought the Society into national recognition as it reported on the discovery of a medieval iron working site that had been controlled by the Cistercian Abbey of Roche. This was a joint project with the University of Bradford who provided help with the geophysical survey, the laboratory analysis of slag finds and the complex archaeomagnetic and radiocarbon dating. The importance of the discovery was recognised by English Heritage who declared the wood to be a site of national importance. The high standard of the excavation work and the excellence of the reports and publications led to British Archaeological Awards in 2004 and the winning of the Mick Aston Presentation Award.
In 2008 HDAS published THE ROMANS CAME THIS WAY which recorded over thirty years of diligent work by teams of members discovering and excavating the Roman Military Way across the Yorkshire Pennines.
Collaboration with Bradford and other universities has been maintained and there are close ties with many professional experts in the study of pottery and glass artefacts. These were all deployed in a series of digs in the vicus area to the north of Slack fort in 2007-08 and 2010. This work was accepted for publication in the prestigious BAR (British Archaeological Reports) series in 2015 in which the dating and occupation sequence of the site was re-assessed. This has persuaded Historic England to significantly increase the scheduled area around the Slack Roman fort site.
Due to the diminishing funding available to professional archaeologists, HDAS has been asked to play a leading role in the investigation of another important location in the Huddersfield area. This is likely to be the pattern of many joint investigations in the future.
Further information about the Society can be found at http://www.huddarch.org.uk/.