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constitute an archaeological police force
Jack Wrote:No one but the curators enforces archaeology.

If you recall what fun I was having this time last year playing in the snow at -9C, seem to recall that all stemmed from public outcry at 'rape of our heritage' and all that....there's actually a surprising amount of public interest in heritage out there (even if some of it is wierdly misguided and often just plain wrong), it just needs mobilising, sometimes as little as a letter to the local paper, developers absolutely hate bad press (and, admittedly in that case, the threat of prosecution)
the invisible man Wrote:Building Control officers visit sites and inspect work at the appropriate stages. They inspect 'plans' submitted before work ever starts on site. They do not however have anything to do with 'quality' - if it complies with the regs then that is the end of their remit. Compliiance withe the contract is for someone else - typically the architect, and hence the ananolgy that I draw.

Following this analogy, the curator would be equivalent to the building control officer rather than the architect, as their only concern should be that the archaelogical work is carried out to a suitable standard. As the building control officer inspects the submitted plans before work starts, so the curator will inspect the project design in advance of archaeological work commencing, to ensure that it adequately addresses the issues, and they should also visit sites to inspect fieldwork in progress.

Any contractual problems such as cost, working hours or payment for travel, overtime or accomodation would be purely between the developer and the contractor, and would be sorted out between them, or by the developer's consultant (if one was involved). I realise that it's not an exact match, as the building control officer has direct powers in the planning system, whereas the curator usually has to act through the planning enforcement officer, but I'd say that their role is probably closer to building control than the architect's is.
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
There are various organisations mentioned here mainly IfA, curatorial departments, ALGO and RAOs - as well as passing mention of the Society of Antiquaries. Surely the body that should theoretically be foremost in this kind of discussion and setting and regulating standards as laid down in legislature is English Heritage as an NGO...? (Or whatever happened to APPAG - All Party Parlimentary Archaeology Group?)

Yes I know there's no budget, but I'm all utopian at the moment, so stick with me.

Perhaps on the policing side there could be a relationship similar to OFSTED and the TDA (Training and Development Agency for schools - one of their teams has the remit for working alongside schools deemed to have failed by OFSTED to raise their standards. In a former life when they were known as the TTA I worked in their research department.) It's the old argument though, as without teeth to legally enforce transgression nothing is truly enforceable by any organisation.

It strikes me that all of these various bodies have a preconceived image in the minds of most of us. Some positive, some negative. We're disparate again... What we need is an organisation to unite under with suitable gravitas like the Society of Antiquaries, but not one that causes such a variety of reactions as the IfA tends to. Obviously there's BAJR but a royal charter floated into my head as I thought about it. Would you believe it (because I didn't and I'd never heard of them) there is an organisation called the Royal Archaeological Institute ( It was founded in 1844 and it's Patron is Her Majesty the Queen. So why have I never heard of them? Is it just me?

P.S. The attached image has nothing to do with what I've just said, I was experimenting at attaching an image as I've never done it before but can't figure out how to delete it.
the invisible man Wrote:Not quite. Building Control is the department in a local authority that administers and enforces the Building Regulations which (unlike archaeology) are statutory. (yes, there are independent BC persons and it is possible to self-certify but there's no need to complicate the issue here). Building Control officers visit sites and inspect work at the appropriate stages. They inspect 'plans' submitted before work ever starts on site. They do not however have anything to do with 'quality' - if it complies with the regs then that is the end of their remit. Compliiance withe the contract is for someone else - typically the architect, and hence the ananolgy that I draw.

I have never seen an insurance person on a building site, and never had to submit drawings or specifications to an insurance company, although it is quite likely that a building built without the appropriate consent wouild not be deemed to be insured, in the same way as your life or your car is not insured if you fail to declare something that you should. Of course buidling professionals will carry PI and PL insurance which is not quite the same thing.

Actually your nearly there.....

In certain areas of the north-east at least (in case of AUP's) I believe (but will check tonight if I got the wrong end of the wrong stick) Building control is not enforced in any way shape or form (other than the threat of not getting insurance). The council Building Control officers don't inspect sites unless they are asked to - the builders have to pay for the inspection. Most BC is actually done by private consultants and not the council.

Oh and surely compliance with the 'regs' is a suitable analogy for 'quality'............the 'regs' being IfA/ EH standards.
I have nothing against the Society of Antiquaries in either London or Scotland....and their respective records over the years may indeed suggest they possess gravitas in abundance. Perhaps a very sound footing for a potential police force....

However my understanding is that both organisations still retain a 'black ball' approach to membership applications where a single objection from an existing member would scupper the chances of an aspirant being able to join in the 'frolicks amongst the gravitas'. I suspect that might lead to just as many doubts and complaints, as those expressed by folk who object to IfA's qualified but open procedures.
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
Steven Wrote:

There are a number of faulty logic and factual errors in this post:

1. There are no "licensed contracting organisations" in archaeology.
2. They wouldn't be independent they would be paid by members of the organisations they are meant to be monitoring (like the PCC)
3. Many curators are highly experienced, well qualified , highly motivated professionals that run circles round dodgy practitioners and recognise bad strategies when they see them.
4. IfA police have no statuary or non-statuary powers and will only be able to sanction organisations that play ball. They will not have the statuary powers of a curator through the Town and Country Planning Act.
5. The rise in prices to developers required to fund the IfA police means that they are likely to simply ignore any comments from the "independent IfA police" and employ whichever unit they want, which is likely to be the slightly cheaper non-IfA Police affiliated ones.

Any curator can be reported to their line manager, or the elected member portfolio-holder. Or of course you could complain to the IfA as you seem to believe they are the answer to this type of issue.

Hello Steven
1 yes we know there are no licensed contractors - yet
2 they could be independent
3 many are not and most dont have the time to do it as thoroughly as is necessary (ask any contractor)
4 obtusely correct but the point would be that miscreants could have their licence revoked
5 as above but they could save costs by cutting out unnecessary consultants
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
that's your chance of FSA blown then Kev Big Grin
Jack Wrote:Oh and surely compliance with the 'regs' is a suitable analogy for 'quality'............the 'regs' being IfA/ EH standards.

Er no, The Building Regulations are secondary legislation. The last time I checked the IfA or EH guidance were not. (That doesn't necessarily mean that the 'standards' are enforced any better under the building regs).
D. Vader
Senior Consultant

Vader Maull & Palpatine
Archaeological Consultants

A tremor in the Force. The last time I felt it was in the presence of Tony Robinson.
Marcus: yes, that is indeed the analogy I was attempting to draw - curator = planning/BC officer, consultant = architect, and of course contractor = contractor. This is no coincidence, the somewhat artificial structure of commercial archaeology was set up to mirror construction and hence the similarlity in terminology.

Jack, I should be there or thereabouts, it's what I did before I lurched into archaeology. As I mentioned, for simplicity and the sake of this discussion and the analogies of roles I glossed over self-certification and 'privatised' building control ('approved inspectors') which was introduced in the late 90s for most classes of buildings. There is indeed a fee for Building Control, whether going down the Full Plans route or submitting a Notice or using a private bod, but not if 'self-certified' by a 'competent person'. Building Control inspects the site at certain pre-defined stages, before certain things are ciovered up - drains, dpc and so on. They are not so much 'asked', a contractor is obliged to inform them before covering up such work. Not that all this has much to do with anything...

Quality in this sense does not equate to regulation compliance, but to compliance with a contract. To flog my analogy further, Building Control (council or private!) have no remit over what (say) a brick wall or a painted surface looks like, provided it is sound and stable. Quality, as may be defined in a contract, will require rather more.
We've been here before...many times...and still we 'discuss' it. It will not happen until there is money in the coffers (who pays the archaefuzz?) and a will in the 'profession'. Currently nil nil me thinks!

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