Archaeology for all

Every day in the Council for British Archaeology is different. Every day throws up new challenges, whilst offering new opportunities.

As Director of the CBA a brief diary of today runs as follows:

  • start the day by buying the Yorkshire Post on my way to work as I am featured today as part of the promotion for the 2012 Festival of British Archaeology. Quickly skim the article and experience relief that it comes across positively, though there are some relatively minor errors. The Festival is the CBA’s major flagship annual event with nearly 800 separate activities taking place this year across the UK. The PR agency is doing a good job to promote the Festival and there will be more media interviews to come in the next few weeks.
  • first meeting of the day with colleagues to discuss the next stage of development with various information services that the CBA runs, including the Training Online Resource Centre. We are hoping to integrate our various information services more closely in the coming years to provide better value-added services for users to enable them to access information about archaeology more easily.
  • after a quick trip to the opticians for an eye test, it is back to office to meet with a prospective volunteer who wants to help the CBA and gain confidence and experience to help them back into the workplace. It is good to talk to anyone who is passionate about archaeology and we are able to explore a number of options which may suit. I’ll follow that up later in the day with colleagues to see what we can offer. Volunteers play a key role in the work of the CBA and there are a number of ways in which people can engage with our work.
  • time to catch up with the morning’s emails from a diverse range of internal and external colleagues. Key issues include following up on a meeting the previous day in London to discuss setting up a major new public participation project to identify and record physical remains in the UK which relate to World War 1, and also work on a new digital platform to promote the work of the CBA which we are hoping to launch in time for the Festival in July.
  • working lunch with a colleague from English Heritage who is in York for a meeting at the University, with skills and training as the main topics for discussion. The Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers is hosting a meeting on the topic in York next month and there is going to be a focus on training in the 2013 Heritage Counts in England, with a new round of the Profiling the Profession just starting up to gather data on everyone working in archaeology at the current time. Inevitably these are crucial issues at the present time with the ongoing reduction in public funding for  archaeology and the consequent drop in jobs and loss of skills.
  • back from lunch and straight into a meeting with a colleague who will be leaving the CBA within a month to plan the best use of her remaining time and the transition to new staffing arrangements. The CBA has had a lot of staffing changes in the last six months, some due to redundancy and many due to colleagues moving on to pastures new. The latest departures provide further opportunities for restructuring to ensure that we have the skills and experience that we need to take our plans forward. Membership is a key issue for the CBA at the present time as by growing the membership we can broaden our public education role, strengthen our advocacy and achieve a more secure financial base. I hope that everyone reading this will consider joining the CBA if they are not already signed up!
  • brief chat about how we can celebrate the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Young Archaeologists’ Club (which started as Young Rescue in 1972). It would be nice to do something but staff resources are stretched.
  • time to plan for the weekend and yet more proof that archaeologists never stop as I’m off down south on a ‘secret mission’ linked with my role as Chair of the British Archaeological Awards. Our major awards ceremony is coming up and will include a number of surprises but all will be revealed at the British Museum on 9 July!
  • back to the emails (which also never stop!) and my never-ending battle to end the week with a clean in-tray (no chance this week!)
  • more planning for the CBA weekend event in mid September to follow upon a visit earlier in the week to some of the sites which we are including. I’m going to try to visit the only site we didn’t see on my way down south tomorrow. It should be a fantastic weekend in September as we take two full coach-loads of archaeology enthusiasts to visit Buxton, the prehistoric landscape of Stanton Moor, the amazing industrial archaeology of Masson Mill, the medieval castle at Bolsover and the palaeolithic archaeology of Creswell Crags.
  • last task of the day is to catch up with other staff colleagues about the outcome of various discussions that took place during the day. The pace of work these days never seems to allow enough time to talk to everyone. I’m tempted to encourage people to go to  the pub to celebrate a successful Day of Archaeology but I need to be home to take my son to scout camp!
  • later I resume engagement with the week’s emails and finally sum up the day in this blog post.

Another varied day in the CBA promoting ‘archaeology for all’.

Mike Heyworth


From Home With Love x

Unlike my fellow colleagues, who are working industriously in the field or in the lab with great enthusiasm, I am working from home today! As a matter of fact, I have been doing this for a while now. You may think ‘working from home’ is only an excuse for slacking or not getting out of your bed in early mornings, but not for me (okay maybe a little bit!).

The reason why I am tied to my chair with my hands glued to my laptop in my tiny apartment is because I am WRITING UP! After years of working in the field in Belize, polishing hundreds of samples in the lab till my arms sore, freezing/ boiling in the basement laboratory, and in my case a stitched-up thumb (long story!), I have decided that it’s time for me to finish my PhD. The process of writing up the dissertation is a lot more challenging than I would have imagined.


My attire of the day – yes it’s PJs! I’d figure they are the most comfy thing to be in when you are writing…


Of course, there are times that I can just go on and on, even though mostly writing craps. But, there are times that I got stuck with data interpretation and integrating theories into scientific analytical framework. There are also times that I would just stay up all night contemplating on THE question of ‘the Collapse of Maya Civilization’…

One thing I’ve learnt so far is that I work far better at home because if you know me I simply cannot resist the temptation of talking to my colleagues. Also, I have this very bad habit of reading what I have just written out loud, which can be quite annoying at times.I am still at the early stage of writing up my dissertation, if any of you out there are aware of a more effective (or less painful) way of doing so, please let me know!


I’m snowed under by this pile of books!


After all, I am working from home with love – my love for archaeology, Maya civilization, ceramic analysis, and archaeometry (archaeological sciences)! x



A day: Professional Service, the Dissertation, and Happy Hour

What this archaeologist will not be doing today: digging.

A day in my life, as a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at Michigan State University (but residing in the historical archaeology mecca of Williamsburg, Virginia), is often a a struggle between writing my dissertation and taking care of other archaeologically related business that seems to pop up throughout the day. For example, my morning today started with taking care of some professional service responsibilities. As a graduate student, I have been doing my part to make sure I can weasel my way into making an impact on how my discipline works professionally. Often, this is a difficult task for a grad student, but, I consider it important. This morning (after a bit of sleeping in because I was up late grading for my online introduction to archaeology course) I sat down to a number of emails and tasks relating to professional organizational business. I have managed to find a niche within my organization, the Society for Historical Archaeology: social media. Part of my responsibilities has been running the Facebook and Twitter pages for the upcoming conference in Baltimore. Additionally, I have been working closely with other members to develop an action plan to get the entire organization to use social media in a comprehensive and effective way. We are making solid progress.


My afternoon, however, will be much different. This afternoon, I write.  I swear. I will write and write and write. And not just any writing: dissertation writing. At 1 pm ET, I will sit in my chair, and work on my dissertation. This is probably the hardest part of being a graduate student, archaeology or otherwise, is writing every day. Today’s subject will be outlining a theory section, which makes it even more painful to think about. The subject of my dissertation are two slave quarters in Southern Maryland, one of which was occupied until the 1950s.The theory is a look at communities, agency, and social relations. It will be loads of fun…

The GreenLeafe: Local Archaeologist watering hole since....well, forever.

Fortunately, my day ends with every archaeologist’s favorite past time: Happy Hour (I am convinced that Day of Archaeology was scheduled on a Friday to ensure that there would be blog posts about beer). This evening is a special happy hour, in fact. Not only will I visit the local bar to share a beverage with my friends from the Colonial Williamsburg Digital History Center (the majority of whom are archaeologists, in fact), but this evening I will be saying goodbye to a fellow field tech from the James River Institute for Archaeology, a local CRM firm that I have been working part time for over the past few months (grad students need to pay the bills). He is heading off to graduate school, himself, and there is no better send-off then some beers with archaeologists at the GreenLeafe.

Happy Day of Archaeology everybody!