Orkney Archaeological TrustMenu Banner Top Banner
Introduction Founding OAT A Message from Colin Renfrew HADAS Greetings Time Team Scorradale House

HADAS Greetings

I have been doing a quick trawl through the HADAS Newsletter file finding Daphne’s name coming up time after time illustrating what Dorothy has said about her involvement.

She led field walks in the Brockley Hill area, and for the St James’ dig “was making a survey of the site using a plane table and alidade so we shall have a precise scale plan of all features, including tombstones, paths, trees, church wall, drain covers and rises and falls in the ground surface” She wrote reports on the Dissenters’ Burial Ground in Totteridge, on the “Legal Literary Luminary – Thomas Jarman” and a HADAS outing to Bristol. She organised a books and coffee morning and was always in charge at the Minimart of the stall holding home-made cakes, pickles, jams, biscuits and sweets.

Then came the West Heath dig, but here not only was technical expertise required but also the ability to assemble all the bits and pieces of equipment needed – before it started there was an appeal from Mrs Lorimer for “old-fashioned metal meat skewers - unbeatable for the job of stringing out trenches”

Dear Daphne, thank you for being not only a wonderful archaeologist but a genius at management of things and people. As a rookie digger she assured me that my not finding anything was just as important as finding things as it showed we had reached the edge of the site. (Later when we having to record hundreds of microliths a day I wished I could go back to those early days!)

June Porges

Although I have never met Daphne Lorimer, being but a recent chairman and member of HADAS, I am constantly reminded of her great beneficial contribution to the society. Stories of “digs” from the past especially West Heath are regularly discussed, as well as the later successful visit to Scotland and the islands with its wonderful archaeology and great hospitality. In between the archives tell of hard work and application by Daphne and others which kept the society growing and prospering. Daphne is a life vice-president of the society in recognition of her great contribution. May I on behalf of all the members wish her a happy retirement.

Don Cooper Chairman HADAS (Hendon and District Archaeological Society)



Good luck in your retirement – though I cannot imagine you taking life easy – you have too much energy and enthusiasm to ever do that.

You’ve been a friend now for 28 years; we met at the Mesolithic site at West Heath, Hampstead. You were, of course, running the site, with all the work and effort that entailed, using volunteer HADAS members - and for six years, rather than the six weeks initially envisaged.

It is still today, so many years later, a tribute to your tact, diplomacy and people management skills that we all have such happy memories of working there – and an endless store of anecdotes to tell.

Your encouragement of the many volunteers meant that everyone learnt new skills and knowledge. For me and many others, it was a first class apprenticeship in recognising and working with Mesolithic flint.

In following in your footsteps, I tried – and failed – to emulate your skills during that second phase of the excavation. I would like to thank you now for your continued support, which was always freely given whenever I asked for advice – as I often did!

You have been mentor, guide and friend – it’s been a pleasure. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement.

Margaret Maher Site Director West Heath Hampstead Second Phase


Less than totally reliable memories of how Daphne Lorimer came to be director of the West Heath dig!

In the mid 1970s Alec Jeakins, a member of HADAS, found a series of small flint blades eroding from a bluff beside the Leg of Mutton pond on West Heath, Hampstead. It was Ted Sammes who contacted me, and brought them for me to identify. We agreed that they looked stone age, and that it would be a nice idea for HADAS to do some investigation at the site. A sort of ad hoc group was formed to see if excavation was feasible, and from the start Daphne was the most enthusiastic.

I remember that we held a kind of seminar prior to the preliminary dig (I suspect it was at the Hampstead Garden Suburb Institute). There was a lot of excitement as we discussed the prospect of an important mesolithic site.

Then someone said: "how can you be so sure it's a mesolithic site?"

I think that both Daphne and I momentarily missed a heart beat, before pointing out that this of course was what we had to find out, but that the stone tools did look mesolithic.

The dig started a week or so later, and sure enough, within quite a short time, it was very obvious (to our relief) that the tools were mesolithic, with some very distinctive types like obliquely blunted points.

Because Daphne was the leading light in this process, and did most of the organisation, she was site director from the start. My own role was more shadowy; though I was nominally overall 'director of excavations', I left all the day to day decisions to Daphne and her friends, as my role became increasingly advisory, mainly checking all the finds for any thing important. Daphne quickly became effective director of excavations, and I am glad to be able to say that we were a very happy and contented bunch under these circumstances. Of course there were occasional problems, but they were smoothed over quickly, and happily there was never any serious disagreement between Daphne and myself, which is rather remarkable on a dig lasting many years. [I leave it to Margaret Maher to describe the continuation of the excavations after we wrote up the first six years' work.]

When it came to publication of our findings, we were delighted to be joint editors of the site report, published in the B.A.R. series. Again Daphne's enthusiasm was a major factor, and HADAS did a good job - remarkable when one remembers how many digs never get proper publication!

Desmond Collins


I have known Daphne for many years now and I am delighted that she has received recognition for all her work in Archaeology.

My memories of her are within the sphere of HADAS when, with Brigid Grafton-Green, we worked on various projects like the Brockley Hill Roman material and the Roman Feast.

Although Daphne’s first love was Prehistory she did get involved in other things –you could not help it if you belonged to HADAS! So putting up exhibitions came into the frame and “digs” of course including West Heath. That was fascinating and fun and run superbly by Daphne with great good humour. I kept in touch with Daphne after she retired to Orkney – lucky Orkney Archaeology! - and I was very pleased to see her again during the last Orkney trip.

I am sure she will be keeping her hand in Archaeology in some way. I would like to thank her for all the unfailing interest, support and expertise she has brought to Local Archaeology.

Ann Trewick – member of HADAS since 1971

Bottom Banner
Daphne Lorimer MBE About OAT Papers Orkney Scrapbook Contributors Return to OAT main site Contact Orkney Archaeological Trust