Nancy K Sandars


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Date By   Place Notes
Re: 1939 NKS   Wrekin and London

"Kathleen Kenyon"


Kathleen Kenyon – Summer 1939

In the summer of 1939 Kathleen Keynon had a small Iron Age dig on the top of the Wrekin. Mortimer Wheeler was digging in Normandy.

Kathleen had already been working with Wheeler and developed what was called The Wheeler/Kenyon method, which was developed in Maiden Castle and other sites, largely thanks to Tessa Wheeler, Mortimer Wheeler's first wife.

The dig on the Wrekin was above the water level and we lived in tents, unfortunately there had been a fire, so the Wrekin was black, we had difficulty with washing. However the Wrekin having been a volcanic mountain along with others in Wales stood up above the low cloud cover, it also had a fine view of Watling Street, the Roman road and at night we saw the line of cars following to Shrewsbury. We were completely cut off from News and so knew nothing of the imminence of the out break of War. I was planning to join Wheeler in Normandy. We had trainee fighter planes diving over us.

My sister was coming to fetch me home to depart to Normandy. I have a letter from her dated August 1939:

Dearest Nance
I will be at the bottom of the Wrekin(I realise now I have been confusing it in my mind with the Welkin) about 12 on Tuesday bringing our lunch to eat in the car and we`ll be home in time for tea….It will be fun having you about before you go on to new trenches in Normandy…as you probably know your passport appears to be renewed until 1940 and I expect French money is quite easy to get.

All these plans came to nothing when I picked up the news of the War, instead of going to Normandy, I received an SOS from Kath asking me to come to London to the Institute of Archaeology, then at St. Johns Lodge in the middle of Regents Park and help her pack up the Archaeological finds that were out on display. There were large basements at the Institute and I remember I stood at the top of the stairs and threw pots and sherds to Kath standing at the bottom to put them in packing cases. She was a good catcher and I don't think there were any casualties. I had already worked at the Institute with Ione Geddy and others on repairs.

The Declaration of War came on August. Later they were all moved to somewhere safer in England or Wales.


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