Council for British Archaeology

Day of Young Archaeology

The Young Archaeologists Club’s 600 volunteers lead archaeology activities for more than 7,000 kids every year. We’ve just had a typically busy weekend with activities all over the UK, here’s a snap shot of what we got up to:

Flodden YAC launch their new Branch in style!

The Flodden YAC launch their new Branch in style…

Aerial photograph of the millstone quarry on Broomridge above Ford Moss in Northumberland

By taking aerial photographs of the millstone quarry on Broomridge above Ford Moss in Northumberland. What a great first taste of archaeology!

Digging at Randal Manor

North Down YAC digging at Randal Manor medieval site in Kent.

Burying a timecapsule at Colchester Castle.

While the Colchester Branch buried a timecapsule at Colchester Castle.

One of the new northern Branches try flint knapping.

Another new northern Branch, this is the North Pennines and Northumberland Uplands YAC having a go at flint knapping.

Phil Harding steers the Good Ship YAC to victory! (It's dark cos it rained. A lot.)

Meanwhile, YAC staff, volunteers and friends paddled in the York Dragon Boat Race to raise funds to support all of YAC’s activities. Yes that is Phil Harding sitting in the prow! It’s dark cos it rained. A lot. But as Phil said, “It’s not about winning, it’s more about sensible people doing silly things because they care about YAC.”

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

More info

Visit the CBA website to keep up to date with our work:
Please ‘like’ our Facebook page:
You can also follow us on Twitter:

Archaeology for all

The 2013 Day of Archaeology falls within the 2013 Festival of Archaeology, run across the United Kingdom by the Council for British Archaeology. This year we have had even more events run by even more organisers, and we have reached out to even more people, particularly via the extensive media campaign which runs alongside the Festival. In fact on the Day of Archaeology our day starts very early with a slot on the BBC Radio 4 Farming Today programme as part of a theme running all week. In my interview, broadcast earlier in the week, in my role as the Director of the CBA I was able to promote the key role that farmers have as stewards of the historic environment on their land.

Having just got back from spending two long days in south Wales at the launch of the Cadw Community Archaeology Framework at Castell Coch, and at a meeting of the Welsh Culture Minister’s Historic Environment Group, it would have been useful to spend a day in the CBA office in York, but I was scheduled to head down to meetings in London. Covering the whole UK, as the CBA endeavours to do, means a lot of travel and increasingly means dealing with diverging heritage systems and legislation in each part of the UK.

On the Day of Archaeology itself, I first had a lunchtime meeting in London with Kate Pugh, the Chief Executive of The Heritage Alliance, to discuss the future business of the National Heritage Protection Plan Advisory Board, which I chair. The coming year will be particularly important for the Plan as the initial five year Plan runs to 2015 and we’ll need to start consultations about a new iteration of the Plan for the period after that, with the added complication of the proposals to restructure English Heritage kicking in around the same time. Hopefully the Plan is becoming increasingly embedded within the sector with an increasing number of organisations developing action plans  to map their activities on to the Plan’s measures.

After lunch, both Kate and I headed over to the offices of English Heritage in Waterhouse Square, for an informal consultation session on the plans for the future of EH. This was a very helpful session, prior to the launch of the formal consultation in September, and we were briefed by senior colleagues from EH on the proposals and given an opportunity to ask questions and share our initial thoughts which will guide the shape of the consultation and the new structures which will emerge.

On the train home it was a chance to catch up with all the emails that pour in every hour of every day (it seems!) and plan for the weekend ahead, attending a committee meeting of CBA North in Newcastle on the Saturday morning, and then heading over to Hadrian’s Wall and a visit to Escomb Saxon Church on the way back to York.

Archaeology for All – the vision of the Council for British Archaeology – is a fully inclusive, diverse, 24 hour a day operation!


Road Trip to Ardnamurchan on this Day of Archaeology!

Hi everyone, my name is Somayyeh and I am a Council for British Archaeology (CBA), Community Archaeology Trainee based with Archaeology Scotland. I graduated from the University of Manchester in July 2012 and not long after there were a number of CBA youth focused bursaries on offer. I applied to three and was asked for an interview with Archaeology Scotland, I must have done something right as I am currently nine months into my placement! I got into archaeology as a mature student after working in the financial services industry. I always loved history as a youngster which was passed onto me by my great grandmother. I did a bit of research into history degrees and noticed archaeology as another possibility, I am quite a practical person so felt this would be an even better way of combining my love of history with a fun subject! I fell in love with archaeology and came to understand that our history and heritage should be shared, protected and conserved for future generations. I have learnt so much in such a short space of time about the benefits of community archaeology and would like to stay in this area after my bursary ends.

On this day of archaeology I am driving from Musselburgh to Ardnamurchan so that I can lead a day of outreach for the Ardnamurchan Transition’s Project on Sunday. Whilst my actual day of archaeology isn’t overly interesting, the reason I am going is! I will be running a number of activities that will appeal to a wide audience but none more so than the younger generation. There will be finds handling, ancient technology with grinding of flour and a wood bow drill, there will be the opportunity for children to make their very own clay Thor amulet to take home and a geocache (treasure) hunt which will help the younger generation to see what kinds of objects might be left behind from a Viking occupation. The treasure hunt will also be a chance to explain the possible history of Vikings on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

If you are interested in the work I have done so far, feel free to check out my blog at

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


Digging on the Web

On this “Day of Archaeology”, I’m busy preparing to head off to the field (in sunny Tuscany (!!)), square away some data, and finish work on some tech consulting.  That last bit is a clue that I’m not really a “normal archaeologist”. Actually, I’ve never met an archaeologist that I’d consider normal –  which is what attracted me to this field in first place. But even among archaeologists, I’m something of an odd-ball.

I have a background in Near Eastern archaeology, and did my dissertation research looking at interactions between Egypt and the Levant (modern Israel, Palestine, Lebanon) in the Early Bronze Age. But for various reasons, both personal and professional, I shifted gears toward the digital side of archaeology, co-founded a nonprofit with my wife (and boss!), and for the past 10 years, I’ve loved almost every minute of my work day. Except writing grant proposals (but there are some necessary evils in all work).

My research and professional interests focus on archaeological data, and much less on digging and field work for myself. This focus means I have a very different professional network, set of collaborators, and work life. Though I work closely with other archaeological professionals, I’m also heavily engaged with folks well outside the discipline, including Web and information scientists, digital librarians and archivists, technology companies, “digital humanists”, and researchers in scholarly communications.

I keep such odd company because I’m really interested in improving the way archaeologists communicate and share their research. Archaeology is intensely multidisciplinary and collaborative. It involves inputs from all sorts of different sciences, and many archaeologists work together in large teams. Sharing the results of all this research needs to reflect the collaborative nature of the field, and it needs to speak with people in other disciplines and walks of life. That’s why I’m so interested in making it archaeological data more open, easier to share, and easier to reuse.

My primary project is Open Context. It’s a system for publishing archaeological data, openly, on the Web, for all to browse and reuse. On this “Day of Archaeology”, I’m busy indexing tens of thousands of detailed records of archaeological contexts, objects, bones, and other material from Kenan Tepe, a major excavation in Turkey led by Bradley Parker. This collection represents the monumental effort of almost 10 years of field work. You can browse around its photo archives and see many thousands of pictures, mainly of dirt. Though it is free to access and use, the data are priceless. Excavation is a destructive process, and the documentation describing such excavations will be the only record available to revisit and re-analyze excavation results. That’s why comprehensive publishing with platforms like Open Context, as well as archiving with digital repositories like tDAR, the ADS, or the CDL is so important.

As this blog post should make clear, I love working with the Web. And what I like most about it is that I work with a growing and vibrant community of like minded people who want to see more from archaeology than costly journal articles read by a narrow few. The developers of ARK, Portable Antiquities, all the collaborators of Pelagios, and the bottom-up group linking archaeological data, are all hugely talented and make my work life rewarding and fun. All this makes archaeology (for me) as much about community and the future as it is about the past.

Evening and More Creative Thoughts

You can’t put down a good read. Still going through my pile of references and finding more on the Internet.  There is a fascinating policy context for engaging young people in archaeology. It’s frustrating that archaeology hasn’t really engaged with the wider debate about young people. I can hold myself partly responsible for this as I was the Head of Education at the CBA, and was with the CBA for 17 years. I now think I spent far too much time sitting on committees and being concerned about the school curriculum. Ah well. There are plenty of good people in archaeology working with young people and I’m sure that greater political awareness will come about without me worrying about it.

I do think we’re far to insular in the UK and don’t look internationally enough at the good work going on elsewhere. How many here know of the World Heritage Education Programme?

One depressing statistic I’ve picked up today. 77% of media reports about young people are negative or unfavourable and that becomes 83% in broadcast media. I wish the media could see some of the work of the Young Archaeologists’ Club. It might open their eyes – but then they won’t want to see it as bad news is always more newsworthy it seems.

Right – time for chocolate.

Rescue – Still Campaigning for Archaeology

Rescue – The British Archaeological Trust have been working for British archaeology for the last 40 years. We continue to campaign, and represent archaeology at a wide level, as well as giving support to those protecting heritage up and down the country. The Day of Archaeology 2012 is a perfect opportunity to tell you more about what we do, a lot of it behind the scenes, as an independent organisation committed to the protection, conservation, recording and interpretation of archaeology.

RESCUE was founded in 1971 at a time when archaeology in Britain was facing a catastrophic situation.  None of the larger, well-funded representational bodies which we now take for granted (ALGAO, SCAUM, IFA, ARIA), were in existence and the Council for British Archaeology was little more than a federation of regional groups which met to discuss common interests.  Only in Winchester, Oxford and Southampton was there any ongoing archaeological presence.  Elsewhere rescue excavation was undertaken by a diverse mixture of academics, inspectors employed by the Ministry of Works, museum curators and local amateur/voluntary societies.  Although many of these individuals and groups did good work, often under extremely difficult circumstances, others were overwhelmed by the rapid pace of destruction.  Even today many local and regional museums have substantial bodies of unpublished material dating from this time.

The later 1960s and early 70s saw the establishment of Britain’s motorway network, the redevelopment of town centres and the creation of New Towns throughout the Midlands and south-east.  These initiatives involved enormous threats to sites and monuments, none of which were protected or even recognised by existing legislation which dated back to the late 19th century. In spite of the heroic efforts of individual archaeologists and local societies, it was clear that there were no institutions capable of mounting the type of sustained response to these threats that was required.  In addition the sums of money available from the Ministry of Works were wholly inadequate to the tasks of excavation and recording.  There was little recognition of the costs of post excavation work or publication.

Rescue was founded in order to draw attention to this situation and to organise a practical response to it.  Early members included many whose names have subsequently become well known both inside archaeology and outside; Philip Barker, Martin Biddle, Barri Jones, Robert Kiln, Philip Rahtz, Charles Thomas and many others were active in establishing the new organisation and making it into an active campaigning body capable of bringing pressure to bear on local authorities, developers and the government and making the crisis a matter of national concern.  Early supporters in Parliament were drawn from across the political parties with Tam Dalyell prominent amongst those backing Rescue’s activities.

In 1972 a junior branch, Young Rescue, was founded by Kate Pretty and local groups sprang up throughout the country.  At least one member, a certain Dr. Simon Thurley, still has his membership card and fond memories of the work of Young Rescue.

40 years later the threats haven’t gone away, they just take different forms. Rescue has been at the forefront of campaigning for improvements to legislation – including the recent National Planning Policy Framework, as well as highlighting threats to both terrestrial and maritime heritage, reaching many members through our publication Rescue News.

Most recently, we have been documenting the unprecedented level of cuts to museum and archaeology services up and down the country, and have been equipping local communities to Fight BackWe all strongly believe this is vital work, protecting heritage, 40 years on.


Unlocking the past – Festival of British Archaeology

Spent the day running an event for British Archaeology festival, at Corfe Castle in Dorset. We had our National Trust activities, environmental sort trays, mosaic making, spinning and weaving, etc. The Ancient Wessex Network, a group of archaeologists and artists/artisans with their activities – prehistoric pottery, wood carving, metal casting, art works, archaeological illustration and beads. Also Gerry the rope with his Victorian encampment and games. Along with the County council historic environment department and Finds liasion officer. Had some great feed back on our comment cards with one memorable one from a child under What have you learnt today, ‘that even a stone has a history’ Its great to spend time with young people with bright eyes and lots of questions so hope fully there is still a future for our past. Now time for bed, perchance to dream …………..

still alive

This is one of those days that feels wonderful in retrospect, and while it’s not over yet I can see things starting to fall into place. I’m a freelance archaeologist who makes a living from writing, broadcasting, taking photos and such like, and I still get the occasional chance to do a bit of research or fieldwork (I suppose technically I’m not freelance anymore, as I work for my own company Digging Deeper, which we set up last year).

For some time now, my biggest single contract has been editing the Council for British Archaeology’s magazine British Archaeology. The job definitely has its moments, but overall it’s one I love doing, and I’m very proud of what the magazine has become – I really think there is nothing else quite like it, and it’s good. But it does take a bit of work, and as people close to me know to their cost, the couple of weeks leading up to printing are, shall I say, tense. In the case of the next issue, that has been the couple of weeks leading up to now.

I’ve come to realise that unless you’ve experienced real deadlines, you cannot understand what they mean. When a printer is expecting a magazine by a certain time on a certain day, that is a deadline. If you miss it, you risk messing up something on which thousands of people are depending (for which they have paid good money), and which involves a chain of businesses (van drivers, printers – there’s more than one involved in this job – a mailing house, a designer, a retail distributor and so on), all of whom are working to the same timetable. And most of all, of course, in this case it means risking letting down the charity that funds it all, the CBA.

So that means that on every page of the 68 page magazine, every word, every punctuation mark, every image, every line and box, from editorial (which I wrote this afternoon) and adverts (one of which was substituted this afternoon), to book reviews (13 reviewers in this issue, only one of whom is really late… I’ll be writing mine imminently) and the major features (seven in this issue, including an exclusive I’m very excited about, though who knows whether anyone will share my enthusiasm?), has to be in the right place, doing the right thing, and looking right, at the right time. And it means that news stories, which are some of the last things I research and write so they are topical and exclusive, have to be right, even if that means allowing everyone involved to have their say, and changing a one-paragraph story 18 times (it happened, in British Archaeology over the past three days).

And the most important thing of all, is that when someone buys the magazine in their newsagent and, perhaps, flicks though it on the train as they go home from work, they should have no idea how much blood was spilt to produce it. All they should see is the excitement of archaeology, the great stories, the beauty of old things – and, inevitably now, a bit about the difficulties archaeologists are having keeping the past alive.

So today I have, almost, finished British Archaeology number 120 (in the shops on August 12!). Right now, that is as intense a day of archaeology as I ever get. Phew!