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Curators - do you dig 'em?
I think that everybody must accept that a curator's time has many calls on it and if a curators work load is to be increased (30 minutes talking to diggers X 8 projects is half a days work) then there has to be a reduction in the other duties.

I think part of the problem lies in that immediately post PPG16 there was relatively little development and a time consumming system was evolved. Is it neccessary for a curator to go to every evaluation or watching brief to check on what has been found?

Interesting things there and lots of stuff to comment on.

Planners - CK has it right from where I sit. We advise, PPG 16 in non statutory, and sometimes you have to pick your battles, and get the best you can. Or call the papers??

Sometimes I think that some standard guidance across counties/unitary districts etc may level responses and such, and make things easier for the contracting units. But then you run the risk of being too rigid. I think ALGAO is trying to address this through regional agendas.

I try to visit excavations weekly or every two weeks - depends what they're up to and how far away, all evaluations, but not generally watching briefs. If a unit I know and trust has a negative evaluation that's fairly small (10 trenches or less) I probablly won't. Takes too much time!

Anyway, about talking with the excavating staff - do you mean about the site, what features he/she is working on, or more general feedback? I've said elsewhere, I think communication with excavators is wildly varied and seems to be based on what company you're dealing with. On some site visits, the excvators are expected to talk about what they're doing, and how it fits in with the whole, and with some other units the project manager floats in, does the run through, and even the supervisor stands around lookign lke a (very frustated) dork.

Will ponder further about constructive things - but right now have a WSI or two waiting to be read.

Got rained off! Huzzah! Have caffiene and a dry (ish) arse. I`ve known a couple of curators in the past (not biblically) and they mirror everyones comments here. Massively understaffed/under-resourced/undervalued/overworked and seen as a pain in the arse. Not wishing to beat a dead horse but, is`nt it time we said something? From the top down, our profession lurches along with more handicapps than an armless golfer. The loser is always the archaeology-not much of a compromise there. The more nauseating aspect of this is that we already have an Institute who should be active agents for change but chose to do nothing. Equally, a Minister for Culture seen waving the national flag in the full knowledge that the nation`s heritage/identity is run like an all -hours corner shop, should hang her head in shame. Aint` Councils supposed to represent and act on the views/votes of their local electorate? Bet the local council tax payers would be interested to learn that their local Council Archaeologists are worked to death/brow-beaten and hemmed in by "other" interests....Big Grin I do however, openly envy the curators access to both hot caffeine and, toilet facilities without the ubiquitous lurker. P.S-am joining Rescue when next paid-think everyone should really.....or the bunny gets on stage at thornborough festy....}Smile
I've always thought the best way to improve the profession was for the curatorial types to get more resources, but it seems they get less as the years go by. I'm sure pay and conditions for dirt archaeologists would improve if curators had greater powers, and probably not before. Where do I sign up for a campaign? BAJR you interested?

By the way, what ever happened to APPAG's recommendations on this subject?
Just to play devil's advocate for a bit, I'd like to ask....what is the problem with contracting archaeologists? I've seen so many sites recently where the contracting unit has actively argued against doing any additional archaeological work even in situations where the site will be completely destroyed by later development works, have argued the developer's viewpoint that a condition should be discharged against the advice of the curator beacuse the developer has decided that they've paid enough, or have left features unexcavated simply because they have a 'feeling' that they're either natural or modern, even in one case where burials were subsequently found in a 'natural' feature. Presumably this is because they've put in a fixed price tender for a job, but have encountered more complex archaeology than they budgeted for, but I'd suggest that this is hardly in the best interests of archaeology. And before anyone says that this is the fault of the project managers and other desk-jockeys in the offices, I recently heard about a group of diggers recently who were working on a peach of a site, but spent much of their time moaning that they were being made to excavate 100% of features that would later be entirely removed by construction on the site. This despite the fact that the curator, project officer and project manager all agreed that this was the correct course of action, there was no shortage of money or real pressure to finish the site by a fixed date. The diggers appeared to feel that being made to excavate 100% of a feature was some sort of punishment, and no matter how often the reasons for it were explained, continued to moan about it.

Honestly, back in my day we'd have considered ourselves lucky to have a site like that. Diggers today, they don't know they're born!
I've noticed a certain culture change in diggers lately. Too many experienced archaeologists taking the consultants coin I reckon.
Tends to be site-specific in my view. Much like the variation in curatorial archaeologists from county to county. Speaking of which, what do you curator-types think about Thornborough?[?]
I don't think you'll get a committment on thornborough from a curator Troll mate, although i could be wrong!!

Don`t know so much Deep me old mucker... curators are allowed to get loud too ya know.....Big Grin
Probably right mate, its us that have to keep our heads down in the trench to avoid the flying bullets!!


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