Community Archaeology Support Officer's Blog
Welcome to the blog page of the CBA's Community Archaeology Support Officer, Suzie Thomas∞.
Thursday 5th August - Many conferences coming up
Well, I seem to be mostly York-based at the moment, which is really nice, especially as there's so much to do in the office right now (not least working on the Community Archaeology Bursaries Project∞ training plan and selection criteria, as well as preparing the ground for several other major projects about to start). However, September will be another story altogether. First I am speaking in two sessions at the European Association of Archaeologists conference∞ in The Hague (not on CBA expenses I hasten to add!); then the CBA's own Archaeology in Education conference∞ in Liverpool, this year organised in partnership with the Higher Education Academy∞; then I'm heading almost straight away to Gloucester for a heritage engagement seminar, and finally off to Folkestone for the Unearthing The Past conference∞ at the end of the month. Really great to get out and meet people, talk about community archaeology, and publicise what initiatives we are planning, but wow a lot of travel, it's almost like the research phase last year again!
Tuesday 27th July - Two Festival events
Finally got chance to blog again, although I'll have to keep it fairly brief due to an appointment at 5!
I was recently down in Northamptonshire for the Festival of History∞, one of the many Festival of British Archaeology∞ events, with re-enactors galore (as the photo shows!). To see more photos that we took over the weekend, have a look on our Facebook∞ page for images from this and other events as organisers add their images from their events.
Last Monday I then got to go to the British Archaeological Awards∞ at the British Museum, also a registered Festival∞ event. Here, I was proud to see my colleague Catrina Appleby∞ take centre stage with Professor Vince Gaffney to accept the Best Archaeological Book Award for Europe's Lost World: The Rediscovery of Doggerland∞. It was also great to see Fin Cop - Solving a Derbyshire Mystery∞ win Best Community Archaeology Project, while the winner of Best Representation of Archaeology in the Media was The Thames Discovery Programme web site∞. This meant even more positive recognition for community archaeology-driven projects. All wonderful stuff!
Wednesday 14th July - Festival in 3 days!
Well, it's all very exciting in the CBA offices at the moment with preparations in full swing for the Festival of British Archaeology∞, which starts this Saturday (17th) and runs until Sunday 1st of August. We're all very excited that this year's Festival has over 750 events - over 100 more than last year!
The Festival website features a search facility∞ so that you can find out what is going on in your area. Don't forget also to check the Festival blog∞ to keep an eye on how the Festival takes shape and for special reports from selected events.
Well done to Sophie Cringle∞, CBA's Marketing and Events Officer, for arranging all of this!
Tuesday 29th June - Keep up to date with the Community Archaeology Bursaries Project
Just a reminder to all those that may be interested to keep checking the Community Archaeology Bursaries Project∞ page over the coming months to check for updates and announcements concerning bursary vacancies and host organisations. You can also join a mailing list if you want instant updates - contact email@example.com∞ if you want to be added to this list.
Friday 11th June - exciting plans afoot
This week has been a very exciting one, with news on Tuesday that the CBA has received a £604,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund∞, along with support from English Heritage∞, the Welsh Archaeological Trusts and Cadw∞, to provide community archaeology bursary placements across the UK in a variety of host organisations. The planning begins now, but if you would like to be kept informed of developments, including vacancies as they come up, and details for potential host organisations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org∞ to be added to the mailing list. See the CBA News Item∞ too.
Yesterday I was at the inaugural meeting of the Sheffield Community Heritage Forum - a means by which groups, practitioners and volunteers in the Sheffield and South Yorkshire area can keep each other informed and come together to discuss ideas. More details to follow on that.
Wednesday 2nd June - CAF changes on their way
Now that the Community Archaeology report∞ is out, and a holiday has been had (also look out for articles in British Archaeology∞ and other places soon!) we are working on making some improvements to CAF, based on feedback from users and CBA members.
These changes will include the addition of extra Advice and Guidance pages, as well as some much-needed cosmetic work. Keep checking back over the next four weeks, and email∞ me if you have any suggestions!
Monday 10th May - Community Archaeology report goes live!!
Yes, that time has finally come and we are sending out news releases all over the place: Community Archaeology in the UK: Recent Findings can now be viewed and read at www.britarch.ac.uk/research/community∞, so do take a look.
In other news, I visited Heritage Lincolnshire∞ with a colleague last Thursday, and was very excited to hear about their Heritage at Risk∞ project, which links local people with monitoring and caring for their local historic environment, something which may become increasingly important in light of the threats to heritage from climate change in the coming years. We also had a preview of Heritage Connect Lincoln - not yet live but it will prove to be an amazing website with everything you could possibly ever want to know about Lincoln's history and archaeology - really impressive!
Tuesday 20th April - Recent events round-up
Well, it's been a busy few weeks, with a lot going on and little time to write this blog unfortunately. Towards the end of March, I and other colleagues attended a consultation day in Lincoln for the forthcoming MA in Community Archaeology∞ about to be offered at Bishop Grosseteste University College Lincoln∞, which will be the first postgraduate course in the UK to focus specifically on the skills needed to work as a professional in community archaeology, and is a very encouraging development.
I also visited Wells for a community archaeology day run by CBA South West∞ at the Wells and Mendip Museum in Somerset. As with many of these events, it was extremely inspiring to see the range of active community archaeology groups even in a relatively small geographical area, and great to see the extent to which the groups share ideas, findings and skills with each other.
Last week, I attended the Institute for Archaeology's∞ annual conference in Southport, where I co-organised a session asking important questions of community archaeology, including what skills professional archaeologists may need to improve their interaction with the voluntary sector, and what can be learnt from voluntary groups and the way in which they work. The session was well-attended with some stimulating debate. A review and some of the papers will appear in a special conference edition of the Institute's magazine, The Archaeologist∞.
Finally, last night I was very pleased to attend the launch event of new book 'Hunting for History: Community Archaeology in Greater York', a fantastic new publication celebrating community archaeology in the York area over the past 5 years. It was clear from the speeches made at the launch that the multitude of projects and opportunities to become involved in archaeology have had a major impact on many residents fo the Greater York area. Central to this has been the support of first Eliza Gore and then Jon Kenny as Community Archaeologists, with the recent good news that the role, hosted by York Archaeological Trust∞ but originally funded externally by the Heritage Lottery Fund∞ and others, will now be a permanent position.
Tuesday 30th March - changes to CAF starting
Look out for some changes to CAF over the next few weeks - the changes and updating has started!
Monday 15th February - Busy times and my pledge to Tweet every day
Times are hectic right now. Having made conclusions and recommendations concerning community archaeology in the UK today (report out soon), we now have the task of trying to implement some of these plans - which of course means funding applications. This is great news, and shows that we are serious about acting on what we have found out over the past year, but it takes up plenty of time writing the applications and collating the supporting evidence - never with the funding guaranteed unfortunately. Fingers crossed that at least some of our community archaeology support initiatives (if not all) are successful and are able to go ahead.
In other news, I've realised that, as well as only intermittent blogging at times (although I'm a bit more frequent at the moment), I am also on Twitter∞ and yet even more infrequently make Twitter updates. Hence, starting from a few days ago, I aim Tweet at least once a day (on work days - probably not at the weekend!) about something to do with community archaeology, whether it is a current issue, threat to a heritage service, forthcoming event or community archaeology project. Thus far, my Tweets have included the fantastic Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands - ARCH∞ website, which features forthcoming events, discussion forums and ARCH project profiles, links to petitions such as the Petition to Stop Classical Archaeology and Art Faculty Cuts at King's College London∞ and the call for nominations for the British Archaeological Awards∞. To follow me on Twitter (and to find out how long I am able to keep my daily Tweet pledge up!) find me at http://twitter.com/SuzieElizabethT∞ - also send me any suggestions of things to tweet about - either direct message on Twitter or via my CBA contact details∞.
Monday 8th February - Book your place at Portable Antiquities: Archaeology, Collecting, Metal Detecting
Registration is now open for the Portable Antiquities: Archaeology, Collecting, Metal Detecting∞ conference, held at Newcastle University and the Great North Museum: Hancock, and co-hosted by the CBA and the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies∞.
Given the current interest in metal detecting, especially in relation to community archaeology projects, this is a very timely event, and should be very interesting. Hope to see some of you there - check out the details at the conference web page∞!
Tuesday 2nd February - building up to the Festival of British Archaeology 2010
This year we celebrate 20 years of inspiring events, which have been encouraging people all around the UK to take an active interest in archaeology and the historic environment around them. 2010 will see our biggest celebration of archaeology yet and we want everyone to be involved!
The Festival of British Archaeology∞ is co-ordinated by the CBA and is entirely reliant on the participation and support of heritage groups, societies and organisations around the UK. The Festival complements and sits alongside Scottish Archaeology Month (SAM)∞ , which takes place every September, and Archaeology Days in Northern Ireland in June, making it an additional opportunity to promote the work of your organisation during the summer, engage with your local communities and help everyone to engage with archaeology and the historic environment around them.
There are plenty of opportunities for you to take part in this UK-wide celebration of archaeology. Events are held at a huge variety of venues, with a vast array of formats and themes. The link below provides some advice about participation in the Festival, including event ideas and information.
Festival Information∞ [PDF | 97.8 KB]
Festival Registration Form∞
To register an event fill in the registration form∞and return by the 19th of March to email@example.com∞.
Further details about the Festival can be found at www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk∞.
Thursday 28th January - Winter General Meeting and other events coming up
There's lots going on in the next few months, not least of all the CBA's Winter General Meeting∞. This year's WGM is taking place in London at the British Academy∞ on Monday 22nd February. With its theme of 'Archaeology Under the Sea', featuring presentations from experts at the cutting edge of this rapidly-developing area of archaeological research, it promises to be a fascinating and enlightening day. Places at this event, which cost £10 to CBA members and £20 to non-members, can be booked through the CBA's online shop∞.
In Exeter on Wednesday the 24th of February, and in Guildford on Saturday the 20th of March, there are free -of-charge training days run by the Association for Industrial Archaeology∞ in partnership with the CBA. Details, including how to book - there are still a few spaces left - can be found on the AIA/CBA Dayschool∞ page.
Also in March - on the 13th and 14th - the CBA are working in partnership with Newcastle University's International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies∞ and the Great North Museum: Hancock∞ to organise a very topical conference 'Portable Antiquities: Archaeology, Collecting, Metal Detecting'. Details on how to book and the conference programme will be available next week, so watch this space!
Wednesday 20th January - First Draft written!
Well, it's been a while coming (hardly surprising when you consider I've been trying to condense UK-wide information form 504 questionnaires, 38 organisations and 45 groups and societies into a 'concise' report!) but today I finally finished the first draft of the mammoth community archaeology research report. This will now go to internal review within the CBA and with other selected organisations, but progress is definitely being made. Look out for articles from me over the next few months discussing some of my findings!
Friday 8th January - Happy New Year!
Well, like most of the UK, York is currently under a blanket of snow, making it even prettier than ever, but also making me relieved that I don't need to drive any time soon. As promised, here are some images from the Rapper dancing that delegates were treated to in December at the Engaging Communities conference in Newcastle in December. Unfortunately, the still images don't quite depict just how spectacular and unique this Northumbrian dance is....
Wednesday 16th December - 'Wrapping up' before Christmas (sorry...)
Yes, apologies again as I have been a very infrequent blogger recently. I have been busy, as per. For one thing I have been announcing a conference on archaeology, collecting and metal detecting (see the CBA News announcement∞ and the ICCHS news annoucement∞), which has already been extended to two days to accommodate the interest it has already generated. I also spoke recently at the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies∞ conference 'Engaging Communities', and have a fabulous picture of the conference's evening entertainment - I shall post this shortly!
Also, plans are afoot for next year's British Archaeological Awards∞. Do take a look at their site, and have a think about any possible nominees (there is a 'Best Community Archaeology Project' category).
Tomorrow TAG - the Theoretical Archaeology Group∞ annual conference begins in Durham, and I am co-organising a session on Friday morning with CBA Colleagues (and finishing my presentation this afternoon!) If you are attending yourself, please do stop by our book stall to say hello, and drop in on the session too if you like. Should be an interesting one.
Meanwhile the Community Archaeology report is coming on well and should be ready in the New Year. I look forward to being able to discuss my findings with those that are interested. A recent project update in the latest CBA members newsletter has generated yet more feedback and interest from individuals and groups, showing that this area of research is still of interest and relevance to a lot of people.
Friday 20th November - Post-SRP-Conference
Finally, I have a chance to blog about the conference I went to last weekend in Fort William. This was the second Scotland's Rural Past∞ annual conference, at which we saw presentations from SRP groups from across the whole of Scotland about their projects. This HLF-funded initiative supports local communities to record and study the often-vanishing evidence of past rural settlements and landscapes. On the Sunday of the conference, we had a choice of guided archaeological walks - I chose the walk through nearby Glen Loy, just north of Banavie, in which we saw woodland archaeological features including the remains of settlements, and many pollarded and coppiced trees.
The conference was excellent, and demonstrated the astronomical success of SRP, which is coordinated by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments in Scotland (RCAHMS)∞. They have already exceeded their target number for groups to be involved with the project, and are still going strong! Yet more proof, if proof were needed, that archaeology is relevant to people's lives, and many of us care about our local archaeological heritage very deeply. What was also evident from the many presentations and displays from the groups was the success with which the SRP team have engaged and involved so many people - managing to keep a hands-on and personable approach, but doing so on a country-wide scale. Great stuff!
Thursday 29th October - Meanwhile back at CBA HQ...
Just a brief update to let you all know I am actually doing a lot of stuff, despite the few and sporadic blogs this month. I am currently wading through the plethora of data that I've collected and acquired over this past year, and working hard to write a report based on these findings. With 504 survey responses, and more extensive notes from meetings with 63 different groups and practitioners, along with literature and reports from many other sources including academic researchers, charitable trusts and professional journals, the challenge will be in keeping the report brief enough!
I am very lucky though, my fellow Information and Communications Team∞ colleagues have found fantastic qualitative analysis software for me to use, and we have a WONDERFUL placement student from the University of York∞ who is helping us to interpret the more quantitative data in fantastically illustrative ways. I also have a couple of conference papers and meetings lined up in November and December, so even more opportunities to discuss my findings and thoughts with different audiences.
Thursday 22nd October - Workshop Presentations now available online!
Announced today on the CBA's News column, the presentations from the Community Archaeology Workshop in Leicester in September are now available to view online. Read the News Announcement∞ and view the presentations on the Community Archaeology Research∞ Page.
Thursday 1st October - 'Community Archives and the Heritage Lottery Fund' Workshop
Yesterday I was at Wolverhampton's beautiful Molineux Hotel∞, home of the city's Archives and Local Studies Centre∞, to participate in a workshop organised by the Archives Lottery Advisory Service∞. This Service is a fantastic resource, offering advice to both local records and archive services and also community archive groups, about accessing grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund∞. This includes running workshops about the application process, a helpline, and even the chance to have a specialist comment on draft applications before submitting to the HLF. A great service that I'm sure can be consulted by local historical and archaeological groups, particularly if they have plans to incorporate archival work into their projects. Very useful too, to see the type of support service offered to community groups by other national organisations such as, in this case, the National Council on Archives∞.
Monday 28th September - Catching up as usual, and also rather achy
I spent the last two days of last week on annual leave, volunteering at the University of York's community excavation at Heslington ahead of new development, alongside university staff, students and volunteers - many of whom also volunteer at the Hungate∞ excavations, and are involved with the community archaeology∞ provision through York Archaeological Trust∞.
I had a really nice time, and we were all helped by the weather being lovely in York last week, and by the cakes and biccies provided by some of the participants. It also made me remember how physically hard excavation work can be; something I'd glossed over in my memory throughout my years of museum and research work, following my initial training digs as an undergrad! Not that I minded...
I'll be adding powerpoint slides from the Leicester workshop soon - just waiting for one or two updated presentations from some of the contributors...
Monday 14th September - Leicester Workshop
Last Saturday the CBA ran a workshop and networking event on community archaeology at the Jewry Wall Museum∞ in Leicester, attracting archaeologists and voluntary group members from across the UK. Highlights included presentations on Exploration Tywi! involving Dyfed Archaeological Trust∞, The Butts Dig∞ in Worcester, an overview of community archaeology in Northern Ireland, and many other interesting case studies, as well as an opportunity to engage in a lengthy discussion and debate on the issues concerning practitioners involved in facilitating public participation in archaeology.
The presentations from the day will be posted online soon through my Research∞ page and CAF∞, but I'm afraid that this will have to be next week, as tomorrow I head out to Italy for the EAA conference∞ (a trip which I am financing myself, I hasten to add!!)
Wednesday 9th September - Survey open again!
Community Archaeology Survey∞ is open again until Sunday 20th September. Then that will be it, for real.
Tuesday 8th September - Survey closed but workshop still open!
Yes, that's right. The online community archaeology survey is finally closed. However, please still contact∞ me if you'd like to add any comments, anecdotes or recommendations for me to take on board in the analysis stage of my research...
In addition, there are, literally, just a small number of spaces still potentially available for the community archaeology workshop∞ this coming Saturday in Leicester - aimed at bringing together professional archaeologists that include, as all or part of their work, the encouragement of participation, outreach and the like. Again, contact∞ me if you'd like more information or to book a place - but do it soon!!
Thursday 27th August - Visit to Garw Valley, Mid Glamorgan
On Tuesday I was up at 5am to make my train down to Bridgend in South Wales, where I met with members of the newly-formed The Garw Valley Garden History and Heritage Company Ltd. We discussed at length the heritage potential of the area, including a Tudor garden in much need of TLC, and a mysterious tumulus atop Bryn y Wrach (meaning Hill of the Witch!), which we found with the assistance of Sue Hughes from the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust∞. It is hoped that this site may become the focus of a community excavation next year, under the guidance of professional archaeologists.
There are plans to develop educational facilities in the area, celebrating the rich heritage of the Garw Valley, from historic gardens and archaeology through to the rich literary heritage of the medieval Bettws Bards (see www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0KAyssxluw∞). With many of the social deprivation issues unfortunately so common in areas of the Valleys of South Wales, it is inspiring to hear about the creative ideas and aspirations of the small but dedicated team of Trustees of the Heritage Company, and I can only hope that they will find the funding and support to realise their plans.
Friday 21st August - Some North Wales groups
Over the past few days I visited a number of groups and societies in North Wales. Wednesday morning saw me visiting St Asaph Archaeology Society's∞ ongoing excavation at Ysceifiog, in Flintshire. They are excavating the original farmhouse at Tan y Llan, on the outskirts of the village, and finding out much about how this original building was constructed as they go along. This site was even the setting of a Festival of British Archaeology∞ event with an open day attracting a huge amount of local interest, gaining the society some new members and even answering some of the questions about the site that have arisen - through the knowledge of the locals who visited. I was able to talk to many of the society members that were present on that day, to learn about their interests, the strengths of the group and also potential challenges in the future. The owner of the property, herself an active contributor to the Flintshire Historical Society, also kindly showed me around the amazing and ancient farm buildings still standing on her land, and talked to me about her own fascination with the archaeology and history of the area.
Later on Wednesday I met with various members of the Mold Civic Society, who have a huge interest in the historical and archaeological aspects of their town, including the motte and bailey, for which they raised money from the CBA Challenge Funding∞ and other sources to commission a research report by the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust∞.
I was even treated to a guided walk of Mold/Yr Wyddgrug, taking in the many diverse historic buildings and sites of the town centre. In addition, I was able to discuss the possible plans of Rhydymwyn Historical Society, particularly concerning some historically significant buildings in their area. I am hopeful that the CBA can help with some advice for them.
On Thursday, I visited the Harlech Historical Society∞, and had a very constructive meeting with some of the members about their interests in the archaeologically-rich area around them, and also about projects that they might look at developing. I was able too, to visit some of the heritage in the area, including Harlech Castle and Dyffrin Burial Chambers at nearby Dyffryn Ardudwy (pictured above).
Tuesday 18th August - last few visits
I am about to embark on my last few visits for the Community Archaeology research project∞, this time in various locations in Wales, so will update with more news and photos soon. Meanwhile, please keep your feedback coming, particularly concerning how to enhance and improve the Community Archaeology Forum - contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org∞ with any suggestions or questions.
Friday 31st July - More catching up!
What a change to be in the office for more than a day! I only had one visit this week, which was on Tuesday when I headed up to Edinburgh to meet with colleagues who have been facilitating community archaeology projects across Scotland. Firstly I met with the Scotland's Rural Past∞ team, who are based in the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)∞. They are about half-way through a five-year project working with communities across Scotland to survey and record historic rural settlements. Each project has its own page and dataset hosted through the website∞, and an exciting conference∞ is planned for November.
Later on, I headed out to Musselburgh to visit the offices of Archaeology Scotland∞, to discuss with them my research and to hear about their plans for supporting community archaeology in Scotland. Following the success so far of the Adopt-a-Monument∞ programme, there are plans afoot to expand this project even further. The CBA will continue to liaise closely with Archaeology Scotland over discussions for any UK-wide support.
For now, however, I have reams and reams of notes to write up from my many visits, as well as a number of further visits to arrange, this time in Wales.
Wednesday 29th July - lots of catching up!
Oops, haven't updated this for a while, seem to have hardly been in the office or near a computer recently!
Last week I went to Huntly in Aberdeenshire, to meet with the Chair of the Strathbogie Archaeology Group∞. He was kind enough to show me some of the many sites of interest in the area, talk about the Group's research and interests, and describe many of the concerns that he and other group members have. All of this will be extremely informative to the research I am carrying out. I also managed to meet with staff at the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology∞ at the University of Glasgow, to discuss their experiences in being involved with community archaeology, for example with the Fort William and Inverlochy Project∞ and the Battle of Prestonpans Archaeology Project∞.
Over the weekend, I was busy again, this time working with CBA and YAC∞ colleagues at the Festival of History∞ in Northamptonshire. We had displays to promote membership with the CBA and YAC and subscription to British Archaeology magazine∞, and also mummified oranges! These events are so useful, as it is a fun opportunity for us to raise awareness about the CBA and YAC, and about all of the work that we do. Many people that came to our table for a chat were inquiring about how to become involved as volunteers, highlighting the strong public demand that exists for community archaeology opportunities.
Monday 20th July - Visit to Lochaber Archaeological Society
I spent yesterday afternoon with members of the Lochaber Archaeological Society - a very new group formed by enthusiaslic local residents after the successful Fort William and Inverlochy Project∞, organised by the University of Glasgow∞. I met with several of the members, and did my best to help out in a preliminary metal detecting survey of two sites that they are interested in investigating further. The group enjoy a close relationship with archaeologists at the University of Glasgow, and have a wide range of research interests across the region.
Today I have been catching up on my office work and emails, but with the added treat of doing so from my friend's house in Corpach, with fantastic Highland views all around!
Thursday 16th July - Recent visits to Guernsey, Christchurch and Southampton
Following my travels in Northern Ireland, the second half of last week saw me arriving on the beautiful island of Guernsey. Like the other Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, Guernsey is a UK Crown Dependency and not officially part of the UK as such. However, the CBA aims to support archaeological activity in UK Crown Dependencies as well, and the regional group CBA Wessex∞ covers the Channel Islands in its local network.
I met with members of La Société Guernesiaise∞ Archaeology Section, and even joined in (for a little while!) with an excavation that they are carrying out near to Guernsey Airport. The Archaeology Section, along with the Guernsey Museum Archaeology Group, enjoy excellent relationships with the island's archaeologists, and are involved in almost all fieldwork that takes place there.
After an evening tour on Friday with some of the Societe members, which took in much of Guernsey's amazing archaeological heritage (information about the range of archaeology here∞), I was able to meet on Saturday morning with members of Festung Guernsey∞, a small but dedicated voluntary group working to preserve the physical evidence left by Germany's occupation of the island during the Second World War. Observations made by Festung members included that, while they had excellent historical knowledge of the Occupation period, they would be keen to learn more about archaeological excavation techniques to assist them with their work. Another interesting aspect was the involvement on the project of young offenders with Festung Guernsey's work, something I have observed on archaeological projects elsewhere.
On Sunday, I met with members of The Christchurch Antiquarians∞ in Dorset. We were able to have a long and fruitful discussion covering their interests and activities, but also their concerns about the local heritage.Exploring the town as we talked, I was able to see many of the places of interest that Christchurch has to offer, including the Norman House (in the picture here).
Then, on Monday, making full use of my time and breaking up my journey back to York, I stopped off at Southampton to meet with the Access and Outreach Officer at the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology∞. HWTMA has a fantastic array of educational material for use with learners of all ages, and enjoy a good relationship with local diving groups, who benefit from their underwater guides to the maritime heritage. In addition, there are many opportunities for getting involved with the HWTMA as a volunteer∞. It was especially useful to visit HWTMA as an example of an archaeological organisation with a huge focus on education and outreach, and with a slightly less typical-than-most outlook, focussing on maritime heritage rather than dry ground.
I have had some time to catch up with emails and other work in the office this week, but there is no rest for the wicked (nor for Community Archaeology Support Officers!), and on Saturday I am heading up to the Highlands for the start of a series of visits with groups in Scotland. I really do love my job!
Thursday 9th July - visit to Northern Ireland
I have just returned to England from a fascinating few days gathering information about community archaeology in Northern Ireland. While there is no CBA regional group for Northern Ireland, the CBA supports the recently-formed Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum (NIAF∞), and fruitful discussions were had about how this forum may develop. I was able to talk to members of historical and archaeological groups across the province, including the Loughbrickland Historical Group, the Glenelly Historical Society∞, the New Buildings and District Archaeological and Historical Society∞, the Carrickfergus Gasworks Preservation Society∞, and the Ulster Archaeological Society∞. Learning about the interests, plans and challenges faced by some of the groups and societies was extremely useful and provided insight invaluable to the research project.
I also met with colleagues at the National Trust∞, who have recently carried out excavations involving members of the Ulster Archaeological Society and other volunteers. In Northern Ireland, due to legislative differences to the rest of the UK, excavations can only take place after the successful application for a licence from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency∞, making it more complicated for voluntary groups to carry out excavations than it is in the rest of the UK (although this does not affect work such as surveying). However, by working in partnership with an archaeological contractor, the New Buildings and District Archaeological and Historical Society did carry out an excavation earlier this year and last year, demonstrating that it is nonetheless possible. Other heritage groups, such as the Carrickfergus Gasworks Preservation Society, commented that there are other challenges for societies that are concerned with a particular site or period of interest, such as finding ways of promoting their site, a beautifully preserved gasworks, when much of the work is dependent on a small team of volunteers and only one paid member of staff.
All in all, an extremely valuable visit, and a huge thanks must go to Ivan Minnis of NIAF for all his help in arranging many of the meetings.
Friday 3rd July - Welsh language surveys!
After a bit of an oversight on my part, I am sending out questionnaires in Welsh language for groups and societies based in Wales. And to think I thought I'd seen the back of filling envelopes...!
Wednesday 1st July - Whitehall Roman Villa
Yesterday I visited the Whitehall Roman Villa and Landscape Project∞ excavation, near Nether Heyford in Northamptonshire. This project is part of the work carried out by CLASP∞ - the Community Landscape Archaeology Survey Project, currently consisting of 10 affiliated local societies and around a hundred individual volunteers - and growing!
The excavations involve both local people and university students looking for extra fieldwork experience, and there was a great sense of camaraderie throughout the site. It was very useful to chat to several of the participants, many of whom have developed their own specialist research interests as a result of being involved with the project.
Friday 26th June - Binchester and Navenby
What a lot of travelling this week! Following my visit to the Yorkshire Dales on Tuesday (see below), I went to see the Durham University∞ training excavation at Binchester Roman Fort∞, near Bishop Auckland, on Wednesday. The University are working in partnership with the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland∞, Durham County Council∞ and Stanford University∞. The project is at an early stage, but promises to keep community involvement as a key component, with all places on the community excavation for this year already fully booked. A local metal detecting club have also been involved, searching spoil heaps for the project. I was especially excited to see that my visit was later reported on the project blog∞!
On Thursday I spent most of the day talking to members of the Navenby Archaeology Group∞ in Lincolnshire. They are working with professional archaeologists from Pre Construct Archaeology∞ on an exciting project in the local area. A relatively new group, they are keen to learn from professional archaeologists so as to be able to carry out projects independently, and to be able to apply their own skills from different disciplines to archaeological work.
Next week I am mostly spending time in the office, which is just as well as I have so many notes to write up from my recent visits!!
Tuesday 23rd June - Recent visits in Notts and N Yorks
On Friday I visited the Ripon Community Archaeology Project at the beautiful Village Hall in Copt Hewick, just outside of Ripon. The Project is one of several groups in the North Yorkshire area that work with Community Archaeologist Kevin Cale, whose website can be viewed at www.communityarchaeology.co.uk∞. The objectives of the Ripon Community Archaeology Project are to identify archaeological features in the parishes surrounding Ripon from existing maps and aerial photographs. They reckon to have increased knowledge of sites and features in the areas that they have researched already by tenfold. They are also relatively unusual for not having any focus themselves on archaeological fieldwork, carrying out entirely desk-based research.
Over the weekend I was able to visit a branch of the Young Archaeologists Club∞: the Newark and District YAC or NADYAC. Much fun was had with games centered around the Wars of the Roses, amid the beautiful setting of Rufford Abbey Country Park∞ in Nottinghamshire.
Earlier today I had the opportunity to visit a different kind of project again, meeting participants at the Chapel House Wood Project∞ excavations being carried out by the Yorkshire Dales Landscape Research Trust∞. The project, with volunteers from the local community, universities and even from overseas, is one of several being carried out by the Trust in the area. Participants included members of the Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group∞, who told me of the ways in which they felt the CBa could support groups such as theirs. They also told me of how their group had formed out of attending Continuing Education courses at the University of Leeds, before these courses were sadly discontinued. More information about the current state of continuing education departments in England can be found via the CBA's Education pages and at www.britarch.ac.uk/education/ehe∞.
Wednesday 17th June - North West Odyssey
Well, maybe not quite an oddysey, but certainly an interesting few days. On Tuesday last week I had a useful meeting with the Vice-Chairman of the Chester Archaeological Society∞ and then met with members of the Fees Project∞ initiative in Wilmslow - a community-led research project looking into the architecture, social history and archaeology of St Bartholomew's Church in Wilmslow, Cheshire (below).
On Wednesday I attended a conference on 'Volunteering for the Future' which took place at the Whitworth Art Gallery∞ in Manchester and addressed the purposes of volunteering in heritage and museums. As the conference formed part of a Europe-wide research project, we were fortunate to hear papers from colleagues from countries such as Austria, Hungary and the Netherlands, as well s hearing of UK case studies. Further information is to be sent to delegates, so I can post links to the European research projects just as soon as I have them.
Later on Wednesday, and also on Thursday, I was able to talk to several people about the much-publicised Dig Manchester project∞, and to hear of future plans to expand this. Naturally of concern to many in Manchester is the imminent closure of the University of Manchester Archaeology Unit, as was announced in the latest edition of British Archaeology∞. I also found out more about the aims and aspirations of CBA North West∞, the regional group of the CBA for the North West area of England.
On Friday, I travelled to Liverpool, where I met with members of the South Lancashire and Cheshire Metal Detecting Club∞ to discuss their activities, and their enthusiasm to become more actively involved in archaeological projects. Like many metal detecting clubs, the group enjoys a very good relationship with the Portable Antiquities Scheme∞. In the afternoon I found out more about the Sefton Coast Partnership∞, and the plans to work with staff from National Museums Liverpool∞ to further develop community archaeology activities in this fascinating area. In the next few weeks I will be travelling even further afield, with visits in the pipeline to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, and even, hopefully, the Channel Islands!
Thursday 11th June - Community Archaeology Survey deadline approaches!
The deadline for filling in the online survey∞ for local groups involved in archaeology is tomorrow - Friday 12th June! However, if you think you will miss this deadline but would still like to contribute information about your group or your own personal experiences, please do get in touch with me∞. I am currently gathering data in the North West of England, and will report back early next week on my experiences in Wilmslow, Manchester and Liverpool!
Thursday 4th June - CBA celebrations
Fun times in the CBA office in York today, as we celebrated the 65th anniversary of the organisation with cake and wine. Sadly probably not feasible for every day, but very nice nonetheless!
Monday 1st June - Visits to the North of England
On Friday I was able to visit with the Secretary of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland∞ in County Durham, and have a very useful discussion about the group's current projects and forthcoming activities, including an exciting collaboration at Binchester Roman Fort∞.
Then on Saturday I attended the Annual General Meeting of CBA North∞ which was held this year at the Fratry of Carlisle Cathedral. I attended partly to 'officially' relinquish my role as Secretary (having handed over to Jenny Morrison effectively from December when I left the committee to prepare for my move to York). But it was also to give a presentation to members about my current community archaeology research and the plans that the CBA∞ has for future support to community archaeology groups and the wider voluntary sector within archaeology. Firstly there was the official business of the AGM, the welcoming of new committee members and officers, an update of forthcoming events and activities of the group, and my presentation about community archaeology. Following this, we were able to enjoy a fascinating and enlightening tour of Carlisle Cathedral∞ and its environs. We were led in two groups by two informative and entertaining Cathedral Guides. A guided tour from a Cathedral Guide is a definite must for any visitors to Carlisle, and comes highly recommended by all those who were lucky enough to join in on Saturday...what FA Cup?!
Sunday 31st May - CBA WM Montage!
After a little delay on my part, here is a montage of the CBA West Midlands Education Day - kindly provided by Birmingham Archaeology's∞ Jo Adams.
Wednesday 27th May - catching up after London
Great week spent in London meeting different groups and colleagues. I met with the project officers of the Thames Discovery Programme∞, an exciting new initiative to involve volunteers in exploring and recording the massive archaeological site that is the Thames Foreshore. The project is still in its early days, but has already attracted over 500 volunteers to take part, and the hopes are that once the funding runs out (which is sadly inevitable with many of these projects), the enthusiasm won't do, and that archaeological groups will have formed to continue the work started by the project.
I also visited the Egypt Exploration Society∞ for a very useful and interesting discussion about their plans for the next few years, and met with colleagues at English Heritage∞ to discuss interesting research that they are carrying out in partnership with Newcastle University∞ concerning the role of heritage in the building of social capital.
On the Wednesday evening, I was privileged to give a talk to the Islington Archaeology and History Society∞ and to have useful and informative discussions with some of the group's members. I was also able to spend time with some of the members of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society∞ and discuss their very active summer schedule of fieldwork for the summer, and the issues and challenges facing groups that are keen to involve local schools and other potential participants while taking care to make sure that the work carried out has a definite research agenda attached. I also had some time to talk to various trustees of CBA London∞ about their plans and aspirations for this relatively new CBA regional group.
Thursday 21st May - Community Archaeology Survey deadline extended
Just to let everyone know, the deadline of the Community Archaeology Survey∞ has been extended. The final date for taking part in the survey is now the 12th of June.
Monday 18th May - Impressive and inspiring community archaeology in Scotland
This last weekend saw the Scottish Community Archaeology Conference∞, a fantastic and positive event organised by East Lothian Council∞ and Archaeology Scotland∞. Speakers came from all corners from Scotland, and it was a fitting tribute to the impressive array of work that has been going on over the past few years, such as the the very successful Adopt a Monument∞ scheme. The Adopt a Monument Officer, Helen Bradley, has recently moved on to new challenges, but it was clear that her work and that of her colleagues in Archaeology Scotland∞ has helped and inspired many. We all wish her well in her new job.
The conference also, importantly, highlighted the degree of enthusiasm and energy that exists in voluntary sector archaeology; from oral history in Glasgow, to an international collaboration on Papa Stour, Shetland, through to important erosion monitoring across many stretches of Scotland's coast. A publication is planned as a result of the conference, which will be an invaluable reference for those seeking fascinating and diverse case studies, and will no doubt inspire countless more projects across the whole country.
Friday 15th May - recent activities and research update
After some time off to focus on finishing my P h D thesis, I finally have a moment in the office to update this blog!
Last Friday I visited Oxford for the day and learnt about an exciting new project proposal spearheaded by Oxford University's Department of Continuing Education∞. They are hopeful of receiving funding for a community archaeology project in East Oxford which should engage with local residents and help develop awareness in East Oxford and further afield of the fascinating heritage in this suburban area of the city - which is often overlooked by residents and visitors alike in favour of the more famous attractions of the city centre. The areas of significant archaeological interest include this stunning lepers' hospital chapel, one of only 17 still standing in England. After a productive morning discussing the proposed project and hearing from other successful projects, we visited some of the proposed sites that might be investigated by the project. It is still early days for the project, but an application is in with HLF, and after a productive day at which notes were compared with participants from other community archaeology projects in other cities, the organisers seem to have excellent plans for the project. Fingers crossed that they are successful. Website: www.archeox.net∞.
On Saturday I was visited CBA West Midlands∞ at their Education Day, which was held at the University of Birmingham's Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity∞. The day was informative and enjoyed by all participants. We discussed what 'community archaeology' actually might be, learnt about delivering successful guided walks, looked at simple and effective educational activities to do with children and even had a go at some hands-on activities. Pictures to follow.
London is my next port of call, with various visits planned for next week. More updates soon!
Friday 1st May - Upcoming CBA West Midlands Education Day
On Saturday 9th May CBA WM∞, the regional group∞ for the West Midlands area, are holding an education day school looking specifically at public participation in archaeology. There are some spaces left, and details can be found here∞ or by contacting CBA WM through the Groups page∞. Maybe see you there!
Wednesday 29th April - Spalding Gentleman's Society
On Monday I spent a fascinating morning with the Spalding Gentleman's Society∞ in the South Holland∞ district of Lincolnshire. The Society is the oldest surviving learned society in the country, and also an affiliate member∞ of the CBA. The Spalding Gentleman's Society∞ organise talks and lectures on a wide variety of subjects, which are open to members of the public to attend.
In addition, Society members maintain the Society's Museum on Broad Street, which houses a truly remarkable and eclectic collection of objects reflecting the amazing range of interests of Society members through the years. This includes collections of archaeological material such as flint, much of which was collected in the area long before archaeology was even a recognised discipline!
The museum is entirely run by volunteers, and can be visited by appointment only. To book a visit, contact the Spalding Gentleman's Society through their website: www.spalding-gentlemans-society.org∞.
Friday 24th April - I f A Conference paper and Powerpoint, and recent visits
The CBA's conference paper and its accompanying Powerpoint presentation from the recent Institute for Archaeologists conference in Torquay are available here:
Shortly before annual leave, as well as attending the conference I also spent a very productive afternoon with members of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society, hearing much about their current activities and impressive plans for the future.
This week, I visited Peter Liddle, the Community Archaeologist for Leicestershire County Council∞. Peter has been involved in community archaeology since the mid-1970s, and had some fascinating insights into how this has developed, and continues to evolve, in Leicestershire. There is a remarkable array of opportunities to get involved in or learn more about archaeology, including the Young Archaeologists Club, the Leicestershire Museums Archaeological Fieldwork Group (LMAFG), and information about places of interest to visit around the county. More information can be found here∞.
Friday 10th April - Short break
Hoorah! I am about to go on annual leave for a couple of weeks, but had a fantastic week at the I f A conference in Torquay, and with Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (see posting below). More will be added, including pictures, upon my return. Many, many visits planned for when I get back too. Happy Easter everyone!
Friday 3rd April - Research page live and visits planned
My research page, which will be another place to find out about the Community Archaeology research project, has now gone live and can be seen at www.britarch.ac.uk/research/community∞.
I am currently preparing for a busy week next week, with a visit to the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society∞ on Monday, and then on to Torquay until Thursday at the IfA conference∞ (Institute for Archaeologists). There, I will be presenting a paper with my colleague Dan Hull∞ about CAF so far, my research, and what the future may hold. The paper and powerpoint will appear on this website in due course. The paper opens a session titled 'Communities in the Field', which discusses case studies of community archaeology from across the UK.
Friday 31st March - Questionnaire well and truly launched!
About two weeks ago I started distributing the questionnaire as part of the survey phase of my research. The questionnaire is aimed at voluntary and community groups across the UK that are or may be interacting and engaging with archaeological heritage. The survey aims to gain a picture of the types of activities carried out by groups, and also the types of activities that groups may be interested in becoming involved with in the future. I also aim to gain feedback on CAF∞ itself, and on the types of topics people would potentially like to see covered in any future training programmes to be developed. The baseline research should also be of use to professional archaeological and heritage organisations aiming to engage with different communities as part of their work objectives.
The survey can be viewed here: www.britarch.ac.uk/communitysurvey∞. It is intended for anyone involved on a voluntary level with archaeology and/or heritage through a group, society or organisation, so please feel free to fill it in if you feel it would be appropriate for you to do so. Any comments or additional information, please do email me at email@example.com∞. I am keen on all feedback, as this survey only forms part of the research, and I will also be having more extended conversations with groups and individuals over the coming months.
Friday 20th March - The Voluntary Sector in British Society conference, London
Last Friday I attended a day conference at the British Academy∞ in London. The conference looked at the theoretical and historical background to voluntarism in the UK, and I found it extremely informative, especially in light of the research that I am currently undertaking. Speakers came from various academic institutions, and I was intrigued to discover that the University of Birmingham∞ is carrying out extensive Third Sector research in partnership with other institutions through the Third Sector Research Centre∞, although, evidently, the term 'third sector' itself is not necessarily a popular term among academics, with many preferring 'voluntary action', 'voluntary sector' or even 'civil sector'. An over-arching question for the day was whether there had ever been a 'golden age' of voluntarism in Britain, and even after a two-hour round-table discussion in the afternoon, I don't think a consensus could be reached!
The British Academy∞ run various conferences and events throughout the year; to keep informed of forthcoming events you can take advantage of their useful email bulletin service by subscribing here: www.britac.ac.uk/news/bulletin/∞.
Saturday 14th March - CBA conservation workshop, Oxford
The CBA's conservation team∞, as part of their programme of workshops and training∞, recently organised a day workshop on Planning and the Historic Environment∞ at Oxford's beautiful Town Hall∞.
I attended this workshop, which was extremely useful and featured both professional archaeologists and volunteers as speakers, each giving useful and interesting perspectives on the planning process and their role within it. Their papers can be viewed here∞. The event was attended by representatives of a number of the CBA regional groups∞, as well as members of several local historical and archaeological societies. These events are free, and I highly recommend them. The workshop series covers a variety of themes and issues around conservation and planning. Contact Sue Morecroft∞, the CBA's Community Conservation Officer, for news on forthcoming workshops.
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