BAJR Federation Archaeology
Community Archaeology in England - Printable Version

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Community Archaeology in England - BAJR - 11th January 2013

Community Archaeology in England: Exploring Challenges in Research, Management and Participation

The benefits and opportunities of community archaeology are many, and include: facilitating public access to common heritage, promoting independent research, extending outreach to people with particular needs and building new audiences for Archaeology. This course will introduce you to a range of current practice and experiences in community archaeology and will demonstrate many ways in which it can be combined and delivered independently or alongside academic/commercial projects.

The course is aimed at those with career plans which encompass community archaeology, together with archaeologists and other historic environment professionals working in a range of research, fieldwork, planning and curatorial roles, who find that community archaeology figures prominently in their workload or is likely to do so in the future.

Community Archaeology is no longer a novelty in UK Archaeology but has entered the mainstream. Universities, local groups, museums, charities and commercial practices are all increasingly active in community engagement, often with Heritage Lottery funding. Far more than merely site tours or laid-on events for existing archaeological interest groups, this is now coming increasingly to mean building new networks and audiences, and involving members of the public as volunteers in all aspects of the archaeological process. Delivering training, promoting awareness, and ensuring good practice are essential foundations for good community archaeology. Many community archaeology projects are now mature or reaching completion, and this is introducing its own challenges which were not as prescient three or more years ago. Managing expectations and ensuring sustainability are now arguably the major preoccupations in this area. This course will look at a range of innovative approaches, and spread the benefit of hard-won experience on the part of the speakers.


Community Archaeology in England - John Wells - 12th January 2013

The trend for professionals to follow the money and become increasingly involved with ‘Community Groups’ is a welcome development.
Many community groups tend to be scewed towards older folk like myself and to have an influx of youthful enthusiasm with new ideas and techniques is always good. This was noticeable at the recent Scotland's Community Heritage Conference with the Glasgow-based Northlight Hertiage well represented. Another potential advantage is access to equipment.

Community funding, at different levels, is available for local groups where participation is open to the public or selected groups. The funding, which can be many thousands of pounds, is often used for projects on the arts side which, although of value, are here today and gone tomorrow. Unfortunately, for archaeology, it is more difficult to get funding for expensive equipment (eg for geophysical surveys) which can lead to more sustainable, extensive, low cost work. Professional groups can make such equipment available and also provide on-site training/experience. Some amateur groups already provide hands-on experience with soil resistance meters (eg EAFS) etc.

Kite/pole/balloon aerial photography kit and soil resistance meters (especially from MM Instruments - our SRM was much less than £600 a couple of years ago) are relatively cheap but magnetometry is still an expensive technique, although a sub-£1000 gradiometer is under development by MM Instruments.