THE longest serving member of the Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society has been honoured for his commitment.

Colin Harding, aged 92, was a founding member of the society in 1958 and to celebrate his 60 years with them the members surprised him an engraved trowel.

Mr Harding joined the society at their meeting in Bolton Library and Museum last week for one of their monthly lectures and the society’s president Dr Joyce Tyldesley presented him with the trowel and a certificate.

Ian Trumble, chairman of the Bolton Archaeology and Egyptology Society (BAES) said of Mr Harding: “He’s played a massive part in the society. He’s a really incredible, knowledgeable guy.

“He’s made a massive contribution over 60 years and I don’t think there’s anyone else that’s been there from the beginning.

“He’s always come and offered his advice and knowledge to the society. He has a real passion to spread his knowledge, he still wants to teach and pass it on.

“You can see his manner changes when he gets on stage and talks.”

After receiving his engraved trowel Mr Harding said: “It was a surprise, it was quite unexpected and I wasn’t dressed for the occasion.”

Readers may remember Mr Harding from their time at Bolton County Grammar School where he was the classics and Latin teacher from 1953 before moving to Bolton School later.

He was educated at the University of Bristol, gaining a degree in archaeology. One professor there sparked a life-long love of Hadrian’s Wall taking the students on a field trip up there.

Ms Harding said: “The professor told them it was ‘the edge of the Roman Empire’.”

While at Bolton School he pioneered a young archaeology society for both boys and girls and led them on plenty of trips to the Peak District, Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke.

Mr Harding’s daughter Sue Harding said: “He’s particularly interested in Roman Archaeology, so anywhere with a Roman site he’s bound to have been there.”

Unfortunately his time teaching Latin was not to last as the subject was abolished as an O Level requirement for entering Oxford and Cambridge in 1961, so waned in popularity.

Mr Harding said: “I was last in and first out so I went to Rochdale.”

In Rochdale Mr Harding went on to work for Rochdale College, working in the adult education department, teaching archaeology.

Mr Harding continued teaching adults, working with Manchester University and still works with the University of the Third Age teaching retired and semi-retired adults.

He joked: “Life-long learning means what it says.”

With BAES Mr Harding took part in a number of archaeological digs, including the Bronze Age burial site on Noon Hill, featured in last week’s Looking Back and the dig in Affetside along the Roman road.

Mr Harding explained there is a theory that there is a marching camp near Bolton because of how far away the other known camps are.

He said: “It’s too far for a day’s march ­— there must be a marching camp somewhere. We found the road but not a bigger marching camp.”

From the dig at Noon Hill Mr Harding remembered a man named Frank taking 8mm cine film footage. The footage has never been seen and both Mr Harding and his daughter hope someone might know where it is.

For many years Mr Harding remained a committee member with BAES, only standing down in 2006 and in the 1970s he was chairman for two years.

Mr Harding said: “A great deal of interest was stimulated by dear old Time Team, late lamented. Now we have Digging for Britain and there’s plenty of media interest and people want to be hands on.”

Mr Harding continues to try and get to as many meetings as he can and has help getting around from his daughter. They take several trips each year to different historical sites.

Ms Harding said: “He used to take us to all these sites as children. He’s inspired me to become much more interested in archaeology.”