About RAS

Rugby Archaeological Society was founded in 1961 by a group of amateur archaeologists to excavate the site of the Roman town of Tripontium. Although only a few of the original members are still involved, the Society's objectives remain unchanged.   

Until 2006 the members of RAS, under the direction of Jack Lucas, concentrated their activities on thoroughly investigating the locality of the Roman settlement of Tripontium in order to record and publish the findings of the excavation. However, sadly Jack died in March 2006. 

In 2012 the Society was relaunched under the leadership of Chairman Dr Graham Morgan.  Since then a programme of open meetings and activities has been organised in conjunction with Rugby Art Gallery and Museum (RAGM).  Between October and June a Saturday Morning of Archaeology is hosted by RAGM, normally on the second Saturday of each month.  Please see the EVENTS page for recent and future speakers.

RAS is also involved in a range of fieldwork activities often in conjunction with other local societies.

As Trustees of the valuable Tripontium Collection the secondary role of the Society is to safeguard, preserve and, where necessary, take steps to conserve all the artifacts from the site. The Collection is now on permanent display at Rugby Museum.

In December 2006 the Rugby Museum Gallery was renamed the Jack Lucas Archaeology Gallery, to commemorate the important contribution that Jack made to Archaeology in general, but particularly to the understanding of Tripontium's place in Roman Britain. 

During the life of the Society many young people have worked on the site and several have chosen a career in archaeology as a result of this experience. There has been collaboration between the Society and various other organisations and institutions at different times.

In 1994 the Society received an award at the British Archaeological Awards for the work undertaken at Tripontium. An article about this appeared in Current Archaeology number 145 in November 1995.

In 2004 the Society was awarded the Pitt Rivers Award at the British Archaeological Awards.

It is not possible at present to arrange visits to the site of Tripontium, which is under private ownership. Several publications have been produced about the excavations at Tripontium.  These are described in the Publictions page of this web site.

Jack Lucas

Jack Lucas died on Tuesday 28th March 2006, aged 85.  Jack was the Chairman of Rugby Archaeological Society and has been Site Director for the excavations of the Roman settlement Tripontium since 1966.  He continued his work at the site of until December 2005.

Jack was born in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire in 1921.  On leaving school he was apprenticed to a painter and decorator.  He later founded his own painting and decorating business, which operated until his retirement.  Many people in the area around Rugby will remember him in this capacity.

However his consuming interest was for archaeology, particularly the Roman period.  This passion was kindled during his RAF service as a maintenance fitter on Spitfires in the Second World War.  During this time he travelled to many counties around the Mediterranean, including Egypt, North Africa, Malta, Sicily, Italy and France.  He had many hilarious adventures during this time, with which he continued to enrapture his audiences in various local hostelries, until recent times.  Recently, his elder granddaughter transcribed some of the details from his wartime diaries, which are now accessible on the Internet, see www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/U762460

The Roman settlement of Tripontium straddles the A5 road between the villages of Newton (Warwickshire) and Shawell (Leicestershire).  In the early 1960s, when some Roman remains were discovered during sand and gravel quarrying activities at Shawell, Jack joined the recently formed group of volunteer diggers.  He became the Site Director in 1966 and has rarely missed a weekend at the site since that time.  Under Jack’s leadership, the story of Tripontium has gradually unfolded through the meticulous excavations and related research. The findings have been documented in four formal archaeological reports.  The fourth and final report was published in August 2005.  In 1997 a non-specialist account was published about the excavation of Tripontium and Jack’s experiences as an archaeologist, but this has been out of print for some time.  There are plans to publish a booklet about Tripontium in the near future, which will contain extracts from this book.

In 1992 Jack’s unstinting labours were rewarded, when he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, in recognition of his work at Tripontium.  There were other accolades, most notably, Rugby Archaeological Society was awarded the prestigious 2004 Pitt Rivers Award, which Jack was received at the British Archaeological Awards ceremony at Queen’s University Belfast.

Most of the collection of finds from Tripontium are on display in Rugby Museum.  On 10th December 2006, the museum  gallery was renamed the Jack Lucas Gallery, to commemorate this work and contrubution to archaeology. There is also a small exhibition about Tripontium in Lutterworth Museum, close to where he lived during last years of his life.

Jack is survived by his wife, Marion, son and daughter-in-law Jonathan and Lesley, and granddaughters Rebecca and Melanie, who live in Rugby.  He will be sadly missed by his family, colleagues and friends.  However the legacy of his labours persists and the archaeological work he began will be continued by RAS members.  This enthusiastic team of volunteers includes just a few of the many people that Jack trained in archaeological fieldwork.

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