Eila Macqueen is Director of Archaeology Scotland, a key centre for community archaeology in Scotland.

Archaeology Scotland – Eila Macqueen

I’m Director of Archaeology Scotland and have been in post here for nine years now. Day of Archaeology still takes me by surprise as I always intend to be more organised but never am! My approach to things is always a bit last minute as I have a lot of competing priorities keeping the organisation afloat.

My team is now up to 13 staff working on a wide-range of projects and activities to help people engage more in archaeology in Scotland. Just now things are hotting up for this year’s Scottish Archaeology Month (SAM) which takes place each September. Lesley McEwan, our SAM coordinator had been planning a Big Dig in Edinburgh as part of SAM and we are working with AOC Archaeology supported by a wee HLF grant to make this happen and convince local people to try out a test pit in their gardens. Lots of media coverage about this this week including something in The Sun apparently! That’s a first for us.

I was quite surprised by a couple of negative comments on the Scotsman online about the gardens dig. They were along the lines of “you’ll find nothing and why would people want to dig up their garden in the summer when they need it for the kids to play in”. I find it strange that archaeology can be seen in isolation from the benefits it can bring – learning new things, skills, meeting people, research and so on. Perhaps we need to be better at communicating that which is one reason why things like Day of Archaeology are so good!

So far my day has been taken up with our response to the recently issued consultation on the new Historic Environment Strategy and merger of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission in Scotland. Keeping an eye on and trying to influence policy and practice in Scotland is a large part of what we do and we work through our networks to try and have positive changes for the protection and appreciation of archaeology.

This afternoon I’ve been sending some text and images to the developers of our new website which is an exciting event for us – to have a new site after many years of our existing one. The site should be live before the end of August (all being well). I hope you will have a look and let us know what you think www.archaeologyscotland.org.uk

Adopt-a-Monument

Finally, after a huge amount of fundraising effort, Archaeology Scotland is about to launch it’s bigger, better and more socially inclusive community archaeology initiative, Adopt-a-Monument. Especial mention to the Heritage Lottery Fund and LEADER. Our 5 year programme will help local societies across Scotland to conserve, interpret and make accessible, sites that are important to them. Today, we are shortlisting for the Project Officer post, having just appointed a Project Manager at the begining of July. Next, we will be taking on a part-time Outreach Officer who will set up and deliver projects with unemployed young people, young offenders, homeless people and communities who do not normally engage with heritage and archaeology. One of our first projects will be to involve young people from Granton and Pilton (very disadvantaged areas of Edinburgh) to record old football grounds in the city. We hope our projects will help the groups we work with to develop skills and find alternative interests and make positive life choices.