Day of Archaeology – Eclectic backroom activities!

Normally, I have set days for the different jobs and volunteering activities I am involved with, but on the “Day of Archaeology” they all merged into one day.     I realise that many of the blogs are about in depth projects, mine is more of a backroom activity.

I work 3 days a week as part of a team for the Local Heritage Engagement Network (LHEN) at the Council for British Archaeology, I am Rutland based so 2 days from home, one at their offices in York per week.   At the moment we are organising an event in the North West, where we hope to engage local groups, by telling them what is happening in the area with local authorities and heritage and explaining about “advocacy” and how how to influence decision makers.     I come from a grass roots level, working my way gaining experience through archaeological groups and societies, so the word “advocacy” needs some explaining to (I needed it), basically it is any type of engagement with heritage/archaeology, whether you want to be involved in supporting your local heritage sector by using the facilities, or commenting on neighbourhood plans for hertiage inclusion, to being involved with larger campaigns such as saving a monument from being destroyed through development.   The team had already been working throughout the country when I started, they have developed lots of toolkits for the public to use, so I am more of a facilitator at this stage, hence the starting to organise the event at Pendle on 19th September.

I am Chair of Rutland Local History Society, at LHEN we received news that Northamptonshire Archives were changing their opening and charging hours, this would severely affect the members of the Society as when the county boundary changed the records for Rutland did not move to one repository, they are split between Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Northampton.  For example the tithe map for a village might be in Leicestershire Archives, but the corresponding fee book will be in Northampton.   The cost of £31.50 with the reduced opening  hours makes a lot of the research prohibitive, and we cannot get the records moved to a closer repository which is free to access.  So a crossover for my “paid” work to my volunteering proved helpful in finding out more information.

I am also secretary of  the Hallaton Field Work Group, famous for their discovery of the “Hallaton Hoard”, we are embarking on another community dig at the end of August,  I set up the agenda for the “planning” meeting.   This dig involves people of all ages, we have a number of comforts to consider as well (BBQ, cake, real coffee) as well as  the usual logistics of a dig.   Having just set up the web page it is still quite a contentious issue as how much is “revealed” to the wider public, some of the members would prefer that no one knew what they did.    We have to be persuasive so as not to offend anyone, many of the members started fieldwalking years ago before the “discovery”, they have suffered from nighthawkers in the area and are extremely wary of any form of public engagement through social media and internet.

Finally, I have a family,  I have had to work around them with lots of part time jobs/study/volunteering, as the youngest is not old enough to be left alone, I broke it to him gently that he would be spending 3 days on the Hallaton dig before he went to school, and the sun may not shine.   He took it well.