Here Be Dragons! Archaeology Day and Weather Watching at the Council for British Archaeology

It’s been a busy week here at Beatrice De Cardi House – recently re-named in honour of the amazing Beatrice de Cardi, our first secretary, and the world’s oldest practicing archaeologist, to mark her 100th birthday last month – and today is no different. As ever we’ve got lots on, and the team are involved with a huge range of activities, from managing the Young Archaeologists Club (YAC) and supporting young people to get involved in archaeology, producing publications, developing training opportunities and working with our members and regional groups, to campaigning on archaeological issues (both national and local) and everything in between. There’s never a dull moment!

We’ve been particularly busy this week with preparations for the Festival of Archaeology, which starts tomorrow (follow updates on twitter @FestivalofArch). There are more events then ever happening in this year’s festival, which celebrates the wide variety of archaeological activities taking place across the country, and to encourage more people to get involved in archaeology in new and exciting ways. For the first this year we’re also running a photo competition during the Festival, and have set up a twitter group for people to share their festival photos.

The new YAC dolls are also busy getting ready for the York Dragon Boat race, which is taking place this Sunday. 12 intrepid members of staff are competing in the race to raise money for the Young Archaeologists Club, with help from long-term YAC supporter Phil Harding, who has kindly offered to beat the drum and keep us all in time. Today we’re nervously watching the weather forecast, which has been steadily improving all week – fingers crossed!

Team Captain Elvie with the YAC Dragon Boat Flag

Team Captain Elvie with the YAC Dragon Boat Flag

It’s unusual to find us all in the office at the same time, and today is no different, but here are some Archaeology Day thoughts from team members who are at their desks today on the work they do, and how it all fits together!

CBA Director, Mike Heyworth, has had a typically busy week….

A central part of my role at the CBA is to act an as advocate for archaeology on a wide range of issues, both local and national. The CBA is at the centre of many networks across the UK’s historic environment sector – making key contributions to discussions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In particular, we are currently leading discussions on the new strategic framework which will replace the National Heritage Protection Plan in England from 1 April 2015, as well as contributing to discussions leading to a new Heritage Bill in Wales. Advocacy lies at the heart of the CBA’s work, representing the views of our members who all share our belief that Archaeology Matters.

In the last week the advocacy issues I have been involved in include the proposals for the A303 in the area of Stonehenge, the future of A Level Archaeology, the future of local authority historic environment advisory services in England and Scotland, the sale of antiquities by local authorities, and a new draft archaeology strategy for Scotland. So, as ever, things are always varied!

The CBA is also involved in the promotion of archaeology across the UK and with the build up to the Festival of Archaeology there has been a focus on media work to promote Festival events in key locations. Local radio and newspapers are central to this, and this morning I did an interview with BBC Radio Surrey to promote events at Petworth Park and other venues in their area. Helping to support local archaeological projects is another key part of the CBA’s work and we were able to sign of three further grants from the Mick Aston Archaeology Fund this week to support field projects in England and Wales.

With the start of the festival, the dragon boat race to support YAC on Sunday, the British Archaeological Awards at the British Museum on Monday, and a major Heritage Exchange conference in London next week it is going to be a very busy few days! All in aid of the CBA’s charitable mission to deliver ‘Archaeology for All’.

Our events Officer, Sophie Pointon, is responsible for all things Festival…

The Festival of Archaeology starts tomorrow, so today is extremely busy! (although thankfully I’m being helped along by my lovely colleagues providing me with regular cups of tea and bags of crisps). At the moment I’m updating existing events and entering last minute events that have come in today, as well as answering queries from the public and organisers. This Festival looks to be the best yet, with many exciting and unusual events (have a look at the website to find an event near you). I really wish I could go to the Boscawen-Un stone circle site clear up in Cornwall and the Archaeology by twilight event at The Museum of London.

As well as answering queries and updating the website, I’m working on our Festival organiser survey and writing a piece for the CBA newsletter about our upcoming CBA Members weekends in Suffolk and Orkney. Our Festival photo competition is also taking off, have a look at the entries here.

Festival of Archaeology Photo Competition Poster

Festival of Archaeology Photo Competition Poster

I’ve also just taken delivery of some quill pens and Viking replica coins to liven up our CBA and YAC stall at ‘History Live!’ next weekend. We’re also Woad face painting so I might see if I can practice that later on! We’re looking forward to the Dragon Boat race on Sunday to raise money for YAC. Just hoping that it doesn’t rain!

Our Listed Buildings Caseworker for England, Claire Price, deals with the Buildings Archaeology side of the CBA’s advocacy work.

Buildings AND archaeology? Yes, I’m one of those confusing above-ground archaeologists. I assess and respond to applications to alter or demolish listed buildings on behalf of the CBA. We receive around 4000 cases per year from local planning authorities, and today is one of the days where I take a look at the more serious applications that I’ve received so far this week.

What’s great is that when I open my inbox full of planning applications, there could be any building, anywhere, with all manner of changes in there. It makes for good variety in the week! I sift through the cases on a Monday, decide what I’ll look at thoroughly, and then I’m usually off to a meeting or to a site visit at least one in the week, and writing letters and assessing new cases on others. Today I’ve got a barn conversion, conversion of a stable block at Lowther Castle in the Lake District, development of a former pottery works in Stoke and alterations to a mill near Sheffield. I’m also going back to look at the rest of an application for the former Horwich Loco works in Bolton. It seems to be a week of quite traditional buildings archaeology – agricultural and industrial!

I’ll be putting some of these cases before the CBA’s Casework Panel next week, so they can advise on how we should respond. Aside from this, I’ve got my usual office tasks and a weather forecast to watch – we’re in the Dragon Boat Races on Sunday, raising money for YAC, and I don’t want to get wet: neither from rain nor falling in!

CBA listed buildings casework photo

CBA listed buildings casework photo

Tara-Jane Sutcliffe coordinates training for the CBA. Working across the UK, this includes a programme of work-place learning bursaries as well as a suite of workshops to build capacity in the voluntary sector.

Yesterday I attended a CBA workshop on widening access to heritage for visually impaired people held at Witley Court in Worcestershire. I was especially pleased by the focus of training, which takes forward the CBA’s vision of Archaeology for All. The day was organised by CBA Community Archaeology trainee Sam Thomas, who is completing his year-long placement with Headland Archaeology Ltd in Hereford.

My Day of Archaeology 2014 so far is being spent reflecting on and evaluating yesterday’s training day. What did attendees (including myself) learn? How can we take forward and apply the learning that took place? I’ll be filling out my CPD log, in line with good practice for continuing professional development; and I shall also be typing up my notes in order to share the learning with colleagues. The CBA actively uses social media to promote our activities. Today I will also be promoting the outcomes of the training day on Twitter and Facebook, with a news piece forthcoming on the CBA website.

Tactile Archaeology Training Day

Tactile Archaeology Training Day with CBA Community Archaeology Trainee Sam Thomas

Our Volunteer Coordinator, Rachel Mort, is a member of our YAC team.

The Young Archaeologists’ Club (YAC) have 65 Branches nationwide stretching from Inverness to Devon, we also have Branches in Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man with over 600 volunteers nationwide! YAC Branches provide hands-on archaeological activities and day trips for 8 – 16 year olds, Branches normally meet for a couple of hours once a month and provide brilliant sessions to inspire the next generation of archaeologists’. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and span a wide range of ages, our youngest volunteer is 16 and our eldest is 90 years old! Some of our youngest volunteers actually started off as Branch members and so YAC is a brilliant grass-root project, I find it strange that I work for the Young Archaeologists’ Club as I too was once a member of the YAC!

My role varies massively from day to day, sometimes I will be inputting all the volunteer applications sent in from out network of Branches or checking that Branch programmes and risk assessments are all above board and on other days I will be planning activity sheets and helping to organise any events which YAC/CBA will be attending, such as English Heritage’s event History Live. For this year’s stall we’ve had to prepare over 150 Viking Braids and 300 Thor Hammer activity sheets! If your around come and say hi, we’ll be in the main exhibition tent!

I also provide pastoral care for our hundreds of volunteers and I am always there on an email or the end of the phone to help them with any enquiries or problems they may have. As volunteering with YAC involves working with young people another part of my job is to ensure that all Branches comply with child protection best practise and that all volunteers complete an enhanced disclosure and have up-to-date certificates, this can get pretty complicated at times as there are different disclosure bodies in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland!

Every year we also run training events to recognise the hard-work of all our volunteers without whom the network of Branches would not be possible. At the moment YAC HQ are busy planning the next volunteer training weekend which will be in different locations in and around the beautiful Ironbridge Gorge. These training weekends allow us and the volunteers to meet and share ideas and learn new and exciting activities to take back to their Branches.

If you’d like to find out about a YAC Branch near you then check out our YAC Branch Map.

Our Local Heritage Coordinator, Tegwen Roberts, manages the CBA’s Local Heritage Engagement Network.

Today I’m catching up with my e-mails after a week in and out of the office. That may sound a bit boring, but I never know what queries and issues are going to come up – there’s always something happening somewhere! The network is still in its early stages, and is working with local groups around the country who are championing archaeology in their local areas. In particular the project is helping local groups to speak up for local authority archaeology services, which are under increasing pressure from budget cuts. This is something the CBA have been working hard to raise awareness of, along with other partners across the heritage sector. The majority of archaeological sites in this country are only protected through the planning system, and so it is essential that local authorities have access to professional archaeological advice to ensure that archaeological sites are either protected, or properly excavated and recorded as part of any new developments. Local groups have a vital role in speaking up for these services, and making sure that local councils understand why they matter.

The CBA also works hard to support groups who are looking after archaeology in their local areas, and I am constantly inspired by the brilliant work that archaeology groups and societies are doing across the country. Today I’m looking at the listings for the Festival and wishing that I could be in about 20 different places at once, there are so many great things going on! Partnership working is also essential to the work we do, and this week I’ve been preparing for a meeting with the Woodland Trust to discuss how we can work together on issues that affect both ecology and archaeology (including the Campaign for Ancient Woodlands).

Louise Ennis, Head of Strategic Development, is working on Home Front Legacies and the Archaeology Matters Campaign.

With less than a day to go before the Festival of Archaeology gets underway I’ve spent most of this morning getting back to journalists with details of Festival events in their region and uploading last minute images from organisers. There are some fantastic events this year – with lots more community excavations, open days and ‘have a go’ events for families than ever before, so it’s great to be able to help some of the local societies, volunteers and museums to promote their activities.

I’m also putting the finishing touches to a paper for next week’s trustee meeting about plans for rolling out our ‘Archaeology Matters’ appeal to sustain the work of the CBA and the future of archaeology. Good to see how much progress the comms team here at the CBA has made in getting the message up on our websites and member communications. Lots of exciting plans to go – looking forward to wearing our natty new pin badges very shortly!

CBA timeline - Archaeology Matters

CBA timeline – Part of the Archaeology Matters Campaign

After a swift cuppa, time to check the Home Front Legacy 1914-18 twitter feed and see what’s trending today that I can share with projects and groups. Looking forward to meeting up with other project managers and WWI stakeholders at the launch of the English Heritage London’s Great War Memorials exhibition at Wellington Arch next week. I’m also drafting a briefing paper for regional CBA Groups on the latest on the project, before dashing off to pick up a banner for the British Archaeological Awards ceremony on Monday at the British Museum. Julian Richards of CBA Wessex has generously donated the voiceover this year for the project presentations so very excited to find out more about the entries.

Time to turn my attention to editing our new legacies brochure before the end of the day – a busy week but good to be in touch with so many people who care about archaeology as much as we do and hopefully introduce a few more!

Our Finance and Admin team Peter Olver, Sue Nawrocki, Cecilia Tuvo, Tracey Lalley and Julia Johnson are also working hard behind the scenes, as always…

Their work isn’t always as visible as some parts of the CBA, but they are absolutely essential in enabling the important work that the CBA does. We couldn’t manage without them! Recently the team has been undertaking a lot of work on upgrading the CBA web shop and working on new membership database, as well as continuing to deal with a steady stream of daily enquiries from members, partners and the general public. You’d be surprised at some of the questions we get asked! Cecilia has also brought in some beautiful cake today, which has disappeared surprisingly quickly.

So that’s been our #dayofarchaeology. Hope you’ve enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading what everybody else has been up to!

Team CBA

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