History of the Society

The Yeovil Archaeological and Local History Society (YALHS) was founded in 1954 as the Yeovil and District Archaeological Field Club. By 1959 the name had been changed to its present title to better reflect the membership’s interests in the area’s past.

The Society has been a key force over the past five decades in helping to protect, ‘rescue’ and research the archaeological and historical past of Yeovil and its surrounding area. In 2002 it made representations to the All-Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group (APPAG) about the current state of archaeology in the UK and it continues to be a force for research and conservation. During its existence YALHS has sponsored excavations at nationally important sites such as the Roman villas at Lufton, Ilchester Mead, West Coker and the Roman village at Catsgore. More recently the Society has been responsible for overseeing important rescue excavations within Yeovil’s town centre. These excavations have included the site of the present Library and Petter’s House in the town. In 1994 and 1997 the Society also undertook work in the nearby village of Stoford, which has a claim to be a Mediaeval ‘new town’ founded c.1234 AD. These excavations recovered important artefacts relating to the village’s Mediaeval and urban past. Currently post-excavation analysis of the Stoford finds is ongoing and the Society is also involved in a survey of the Norman Church of St. Mary at Stoke-Sub-Hamdon.

The Society and its members have always sought to encourage and research the history as well as the archaeology of the town. The Society’s journal has carried many important articles relating to the history of the town. These have ranged widely from discussions of Yeovil’s Anglo-Saxon origins (the town is first mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great c.AD899) to Victorian and twentieth century events. A number of members are also actively interested in family history and recorded the memorials in Tintinhull churchyard. The Society has also managed to secure many important documents relating to the town’s past for posterity. These include a number of municipal planning papers and account books.

The society is currently working towards cataloguing the articles in all the issues of the society’s journal Chronicle for publication on this website.

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