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How should British Archaeology be run
#1
Considering the mish mash of different organisations that have a finger in this country's archaeology how do the forum members think the archaeological heritage of this country would best be managed, preserved and researched?

Can we rely on developer funded archaeology to pick up important archaeology befroe it is destroyed ?

Do we need stronger state intervention, legislation and a state run system? (is the current state set up of EH totally toothless?)

What is the point of University excavations (vanity projects?)

Should everything be open to the community (amatuers)?

Forget archaeology we all have worse things to worry about?

Enjoy
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#2
I have worked on a number of EH 'research' excavations. I was very thankful at the time for these experiences. Two of these excavations were on Scheduled Monuments. One of these sites was certainly not threatened by farming, building etc. I do wonder why such work is undertaken. Members of the public played a large role in this work, which, in its self is a great thing....but on a Scheduled Monument?

Perhaps im not answering your question, but I think my reply relates to it to an extent.
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#3
"Should everything be open to the community?"

If you have some money then fill your boots. Flag Fen is the proof.
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#4
"Forget archaeology we all have worse things to worry about"


Yeah, where am I going to stay at the weekend as I only have 5 day accommodation, 300 miles from home.
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#5
At the moment the way commercial archaeology is curated results in a staggering waste of resources - there are an awful lot of jobs where you know before setting foot on the site that either there isn't going to be any archaeology, or if there is then for a variety of practical reasons (eg. unshored narrow deep trenches that can't be examined or recorded) you ain't gonna be able to do anything useful , and has anyone ever in the history of archaeology found anything useful by monitoring telegraph poles being put up? Would make far more sense if the client in those situations could make a nominal 'donation' to a central fund and have the job written-off, and the funds spent on something slightly more archaeologically useful?

Personally I'd much rather go back to centrally funded archaeology (don't tell my management) - bring back the CEU and county-based council-run units, that all seemed to work fine last time around, and at least some local knowledge was occasionally deployed avoiding the regular farces that keep resulting from 'outside' outfits poaching jobs in unfamiliar territory - suspect for legal reasons I can't describe the latest c***-up that's just come to my attention (while writing-up all the features we've dug in a field which apparently according to the ES for a proposed development 'has little archaeological potential' - no, probably not to a unit who's nearest office is 150 miles away....) Sad!

People have been asking for over 30 years in my own personal experience what exactly the point of university 'training' digs is..... :face-stir:
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#6
I think my preference is for County based archaeology services with field units and the remit to call on commercial specialists ( strongly monitored or managed by the county service). All this linked to a strong central Government set up. Community archaeology and University research only taking place under the guidance of the county service but with a commitment to involve local communities and encourage volunteer involvement. volunteers to be trained and managed by permanent employed staff. University research to be part of the system not separate from it and to fit with regional research agendas and training needs not academic vanity projects.

But in the real world...........xx(
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#7
My radical solution.......introduce a lower age limit for archaeological field staff of 35. Nobody under that age would be allowed anywhere near a trowel (although of course they can play around at university and in record offices and even to undertake specialist work that didn't involve them directly in excavation to their hearts content)......if you consider all of the implications (far too many to mention here) it makes a lot of sense.....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#8
Dino really encapsulates my views as well. I well remember the pointlessness of watching a parking meter being dug near a scheduled site. But it cost the company plenty for our presence. pointless. I remember well the times when the public were welcome, but now excluded (even teh Richard III dig - on council land (carpark... has this statement from the council ---
Quote:Visitors are not able to view the dig once it commences, as it is taking place at an operational council area and is not publicly accessible. In addition, the possibility of finding human remains requires maintaining a 'clean site'.
operation council area --- aka car park. I am more than capable of coping with this dangerous and operational area... Smile Gaaah Place barriers up to ensure we have no connection to people.

a depressing myopic view of the future. where the past is controlled and drip fed to people via complex web based systems that require login, payments and a degree in terminology. What happened?

If I had a vote.. I would return to Local Units.. to Volunteers included in digs. In removal of daft ideologies regarding what should be examined - and central funds for work.
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#9
Quote:introduce a lower age limit for archaeological field staff of 35. Nobody under that age would be allowed anywhere near a trowel (although of course they can play around at university and in record offices and even to undertake specialist work that didn't involve them directly in excavation to their hearts content
Of course, none of them will know how to excavate by the time they hit 35 - it just moves the current problem from freshly-graduated 21 year olds, forward a decade and a bit. Also, by that age they're likely to have mortgages and families to support, so they'll have to be paid more than the current starter wage to make it a viable option for them. Fresh graduates expect to earn peanuts and scratch about at the bottom of the economic ladder for a while. Grown-ups have an unfortunate tendency to need a living wage.

The problem remains about who would hire an inexperienced digger. Where will they get the necessary experience? We've apparently already decided that university digs are useless and commercial units don't have the resources to train them.

I think the minimum starter age for an excavator should be 70. Given the future lack of pension provision, people that age will be desperate for any kind of employment. They'll already have had bad backs/knees for a few years and will be used to it, therefore preventing the general background health-niggle earache for management (you can have exclusion clauses in contracts which remove liability for the worsening of existing medical conditions or commonplace site injuries like doing a hip). The coffin-dodgers are more likely to have driving licences, the mortgage will have been paid off and any kids will long-since have flown the nest. thus lowering their financial requirements. They'll have been watching Time Team for 50 years by then, therefore equipping them with all the necessary digging expertise, meaning that nobody has to train them at all.

Perhaps I've just missed the ironic smiley... :face-approve:
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#10
kevin wooldridge Wrote:My radical solution.......introduce a lower age limit for archaeological field staff of 35. Nobody under that age would be allowed anywhere near a trowel (although of course they can play around at university and in record offices and even to undertake specialist work that didn't involve them directly in excavation to their hearts content)......if you consider all of the implications (far too many to mention here) it makes a lot of sense.....

I assume that is a joke, in which case, ha ha, well done.

If not, how about everyone over the age of 35 who hasn't reached at least project officer level is forced to retire so that someone else can have a chance!

Pathetic. Childish.. Far too many to mention here.
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