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!