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The Key Points from the RESCUE Open Meeting to discuss 'Mortimer' on Sat 02 April
As you may be aware, Moreno and I attended the RESCUE AGM and subsequent open discussion that was held in Woking on Saturday 2nd April. I thought it might help the various threads that this might relate to if I posted in this thread (in the next message) a fairly brief, partially bulletpointed summary of the items/issues discussed. I hope it makes sense, please PM me if there is anything else you want to know or if anyone thinks I've misinterpreted anything. Incidentally, the last paragraph is more a personal concern at present although something which I discussed with Andy afterwards.

RESCUE Open Meeting to Discuss a Response to the Possibly Unfolding Heritage Crisis

Archaeology - its all about all of us!
- Archaeology has a broad basis, both functionally and its value to individuals, groups and society. As such, it is very hard to describe or pull it under one body.

Some individuals left the recent Current Archaeology Conference feeling dispirited at the fragmented nature of the arguments outlined by the parties present (IfA, CBA, Heritage Alliance, Andrew Selkirk for CA).
  • Andy Brockman and others began discussing the situation, keeping it as a small group to get things done and are now beginning to expand the discussion (CBA, BAJR etc).
  • They identified that archaeology has an image problem (see Bonekickers - a fictional creation aimed at the public in which only one individual of the central four bares any resemblance to what the public would otherwise think of as an archaeologist - an alcoholic with an Indiana Jones style hat and a dusty-library fetish).
  • This comes at a time when archaeology experienced a 7.6% decrease in numbers of archaeological posts in the UK in the final six months of 2010 and a >20% reduction in funding streams available (see Landward survey for IfA and FAME).

In addition, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee strongly criticised the Govt's approach to heritage and praised the work of the now defunct Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, dissolved in 'the Bonfire of the Quangos'. Also of note is the Tory Party's pre-election Green Paper which identified the deregulation of the planning process relating to industrial buildings as an easy way to encourage development. Thus conversion of one supermarket store to another could occur easily but it could also mean that a former mill building of archaeological interest could be converted to an industrial premises without any requirement to record it.

  • The CM&S Select Committee identified that heritage tourism alone contributes ?7.4 billion to the UK economy (?20.6 billion with multipliers such as suppliers).
  • The membership of the NT, EH, RSPB, CBA et al suggests an enormous support-base for heritage in the UK, albeit covered by a fragmented array of organisations.

As a result of dialogue and AB's open letter in BritArch, the genesis of this campaign was formed. The name is both personal and yet unspecific and is accompanied by a fairly obvious marketing image in Mortimer Wheeler's face and quotes. It can mean nothing in itself but can be filled with whatever connotations people wish to add, although the aim and method are more important than the name.

The aim of this campaign would be to generate public support for archaeology rather than to educate the public about the many and varied specifics of the heritage sector.

  • The intention is to produce an immediate response to threats to archaeology from a public level (a groundswell of public opinion).
  • Once we have engaged the public and decision makers, the specialist groups can move in to educate on specific issues.
  • If the Mortimer campaign can be adopted across the country, it can provide a network where threats to archaeology on a specific (a particular site), local and regional (funding of community projects, local authority posts) and threats at a national level (deregulation of the planning process) can be identified and responses formed rapidly, mobilising local and regional support.
  • By linking up with complimentary interest groups (e.g. RSPB and others) and introducing mutually supportive relationships, this localised and regional response can be quickly boosted.
  • This will also pull archaeology and heritage firmly into the environment which is better understood by the public and may induce a better groundswell of public support when dealing with issues like the planning process as well as increasing the ability to respond locally.
  • 38 Degrees' woodlands campaign hardly mentioned archaeology and access to heritage, yet access and environmental issues led to >500,000 signatures on the online petition within a relatively short space of time.
  • The Mortimer team wish to have some form of network in place to embark on a publicity campaign before the local elections in May. This requires a rapid uptake and dissemination of the necessary information and support. A website ( for this purpose should be up and running in the next few days.

One difficulty with instigating the campaign may lie within the commercial sector. Archaeology businesses might tacitly support the aims of the campaign but not wish to outwardly support it as it could cut into their commercial interests and conflict with their client relationships. Individually, commercial archaeologists can be very cynical of attempts to capitalise on their support (see the failure of the IfA in gaining grass-roots support within the profession). Generating support for and disseminating a message through commercial archaeologists would probably require progressive individual action amongst a core group of diggers to encourage more to take on the message of the campaign. This could create a fractious situation with some employers and colleagues.
Many industries have an industry spokesman or an industry body whose sole aim is to publicly further the cause of that particular industry. That doesn't mean to say that the members of the groups don't disagree in the mean time. It's the facade that counts when trying to engage in PR.

I see what you're trying to do, best of luck, though don't expect a huge rush of support from within the ranks.Big Grin

It is hopeful, and of course may work or may not, depending on support.

The fascade is what counts. and it has to be one voice, one message. and one that is understood by many.

Mortimer... will continue to say it is a terrible name. i was first under the impression it was a working name... until a proper one came along. personally and not alone... it gives all the wrong connotations... a old tweed wearing white middle class gentleman with a pipe.

I attach a few poster ideas that we knocked up... (note, the final font, layout, images etc are not set - they are conceptual)

I am glad that RESCUE were kind enough to offer time and space. I am having a meeting with Archaeology SCotland on Wednesday and we are having a further meeting in York this month.

My big concern... the best meaning of campaigns, with no money and no support from archaeologists :face-approve:

Hello again BAJRites. I'm Back.

I was at the Rescue meeting on Saturday too. A very positive message - but I have to agree. Mortimer's a terrible name for this. I thought this was a working idea, but are we really stuck with it now? I'd prefer something far less personal - "Our Heritage - you can only cut it once" with a picture of a bulldozer knocking an historic building down. Something like that.
it's worth saying again cus

hindsight - it's a wonderful thing
[SIZE=3]GPstone said-One difficulty with instigating the campaign may lie within the commercial sector.

Too right. The commercial sector can make very little effect on increasing the amount of development going on and it?s the amount of development which absolutely controls the commercial sector. I also don?t think that we are best lumped in the heritage industry

[SIZE=3]?The CM&S Select Committee identified that heritage tourism alone contributes ?7.4 billion to the UK economy (?20.6 billion with multipliers such as suppliers).

If we stopped doing developer funded archaeology today would it make any difference to the heritage tourism industry? I don?t think that it would, or rather that it would not be measurable under the ?heritage? banner. The conflict of interest that we have would be to agree that yet more infrastructure needs to be built so that tourists can get from Heathrow to Stonehenge and onto Stratford on Avon. I agree?

[SIZE=3]?The membership of the NT, EH, RSPB, CBA et al suggests an enormous support-base for heritage in the UK, albeit covered by a fragmented array of organisations.

Again I don?t think that field archaeologists come under the heritage banner. I think that if you put field archaeologists in a fire sale of heritage, people would vote to save tangible assets first, like a museum, a stately home where their ancestors used to wipe the arses of the ancestors of the current pupils at Eton, or a monument. Doing new archaeology is going to be head stuck in the sand and don?t we use vo;uenteers for that.

Right now we have threats to HERs which were once and in some places are still called SMRs. Thing is that in the good times the fundamentals of SMRs were never questioned. Yes Somebody came up with a name change, I suppose. ?Hay look we have lots of spare cash wouldn?t it be a good idea to change the name?. It used to be a few drawers of index cards, maybe some parish files and a bit of a library. There was a map cabinet which had 1930s ordnance survey scribbled with every county archaeologists (who used to work for the ordnance survey) redesigned number system. It was all stuff that should have been at and sometime was in the local museum. Then grey literature started and somehow this literature became an excuse for the SMRs existence in about early to mid nineties. Which is when it all turned into a bonanza for the established units and the civil servants. Now the HER is in a very expensive computer which needs to be fed electricity every day. This computer is run by a service company. In some cases the service companies also run the HER. And they have probably spotted that nobody uses it enough and that those that do only use it because they are made too and don?t really need it to do field work particularly when there is no field work about.

Problem now is that the museums couldn?t take the HERs as the museums were now not in the education industry (if that?s what the HER is for) the museums are in?..the heritage industry which as we know is nothing to do with us. Oh and the grey literature can be put on oasis. HER RIP

Nuclear power station next door. Yes please.
Reason: your past is my past
Hmmm..was not HER status underlined as fixed and required by PPS5 or did I miss something?
it might have been but then whats PPS5 (last governments rubbish) - underlined and fixed is not statutory
Reason: your past is my past
Quote:One difficulty with instigating the campaign may lie within the commercial sector.
Surely any commercial unit realises that it needs to get the local community on side asap, if they are the ones about to start calling the shorts with regards to developments.

I?m a grassroots digger with limited time but a big mouth,

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