Press Release January 2015 Researching Rutland	Registered Charity No 700273 Rutland Local History & Record Society
John Barber’s Oakham Castle and its archaeology compiled and edited by Elaine Jones and Robert Ovens RLHRS Occasional Publication No 11 (A4, 72pp, paperback, full colour) Oakham Castle is one of England’s most important Romanesque vernacular buildings, and it will soon be undergoing refurbishment following the award of a £2m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. In the 1950s, John Barber carried out excavations adjacent to the Great Hall of Oakham Castle with the assistance of boys from Oakham School, where he was a master. Circumstances conspired against his being able to produce a detailed excavation report at the time, but he subsequently wrote extensive notes about the Great Hall and the castle site. Now, since there is renewed interest in the history and archaeology of the Castle, the Rutland Local History & Record Society has decided to publish these notes in its Occasional Publications series. The Friends of the Rutland County Museum & Oakham Castle have supported the publication with a grant which has made it possible to print in full colour. Although more recent research undertaken with the benefit of modern techniques has amplified our knowledge and understanding of the Castle, sometimes challenging John Barber’s ideas in the process, his work is by no means diminished as a result. His notes and reports remain important and informative background material for any study of Oakham Castle, Rutland’s most important ancient monument. The publication also includes an up-to-date assessment of the pottery from his excavations by Deborah Sawday, as well as Peter Gathercole’s report on the rescue excavations he undertook in 1953-54 when the now closed Oakham Post Office was being built. Amongst those who remembers taking part in the excavations when he was a boy at Oakham School is Peter Lawson, High Sheriff of Rutland in 2011, who recalls, ‘I spent many muddy hours over half a century ago rescuing medieval Stamford ware from the bottom of a trench beside Oakham Castle. It’s a joy to see the full record of those summers published for the first time: a fitting acknowledgement of John Barber’s genius’. John Barber’s son Tony said, ‘I remember as a very young boy of eleven Father’s exploits at Oakham Castle when we lived in Brooke Road, and was very interested in reading about the excavations’. Both he and his brother John have said how pleased they are to see this publication. Tim Clough, the Society’s Honorary Editor, said, ‘John Barber’s knowledge of Oakham Castle and his enthusiasm for everything to do with the history and archaeology of Rutland never failed to inspire when as Curator of the Rutland County Museum and the Castle I had the responsibility of looking after this wonderful building. It’s great that we have now been able to publish this work of his, and we’re very grateful to Elaine Jones and Robert Ovens for transcribing, editing and indexing the original, and for providing the illustrations.’ Copies of the new publication can be obtained as usual from the Rutland Local History & Record Society at the Rutland County Museum for £8.00 (plus £1.50 p&p), via local bookshops, or on-line. ISBN-13: 978-0-907464-51-8. For further information, please contact: Tim Clough, Honorary Editor, RLHRS, Rutland County Museum, Catmose Street, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 6HW, or e-mail.