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Any thoughts on the potential damage to archaeology/heritage assets by the flooding?
#1
Will the current floods have damaged archaeology? Apart from the water I have noticed many news reports show large machines shifting earth around to make banks and drainage ditches I presume this is being done without regard to possible archaeology. People's homes and livelihoods do need protecting but I am wondering what the cost to our heritage is going to be when the water goes down.
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#2
Well, IF the waters ever recede, we'll be looking at a real mix of interventions. There's your ditches and banks, as well as the inevitable repair trenches for services, rebuilding of roads and seafronts, etc. Then once damaged buildings get pulled down their replacements will cause fresh disturbance.

I reckon the immediate repairs to infrastructure will largely get ramrodded through without any archaeology due to pressure to get society working again. Longer-term repair/replacement of damaged homes might be a different story. And of course there's all the "preserved" stuff in deeply flooded fields that'll get mashed to bits by cattle and tractors as farming returns to still-squidgy ground...

But then again, we might be looking at the sea permanently reclaiming the Levels. Curiously the money and troops denied the Somerset folk magically get rolled out when the Thames stock-broker belt gets wet...

Personally I think this is another of those evolutionary pressure-points, where humanity will start growing gills!
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#3
Unfortunately, but neccesarilly, this may be one of those situations where heritage comes second, and our sector may not win any favors by raising the alarm too loud. I fear all we can do is look on with a degree of anguish.

On the plus side, most of the Somerset Levels areas flooded are relatively marginal agricultiral land where new drainage will be minimal, and since prehistory most of these areas have been flooded many times over so new waterlogging ought not to increase deteriororation. Coversely, much of the Thames Valley flooded areas, are already developed, therefore large-scale tuuncation has laready occured by our own hand.

I don't think the situation heritage-wise is as dire as could be, and through a slightly melancholic lens, it is kind of interesting to see which areas flood when the waters rise, compared to how we think topography will be effected. Obviously water course are dynamic, and much has changed, but it illustrates why they were so important and some land wasn't.

I agree with a huge amount of sympathy and charity to Cornwall and Somerset, some of those families must have felt quite abandoned, but my sympathy for Datchett and other Thames-side areas is limited. They thought riverside location at those prices was too good to be true, well nature is a fickle animal.
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#4
The EA have in-house archaeologists and a general policy of if archaeology is exposed it must be sample recorded.

However, i suspect that emergency outweighs archaeology.
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#5
Hopefully there will be an urgent review by EH and the HERs of all the sites that were already suffering from river-erosion, the recent couple of very wet spells must have dramatically accelerated on-going damage to some/many. I worked on one guardianship site in the late 80s that was partially excavated in order to allow for anticipated erosion over the following 20-30 years - any such estimates are now hopelessly exceeded (and in that case would be pretty much expired anyway - no signs of any follow-up work though). The farmer handed in parts of an unexcavated skelly found sticking out of the riverbank as long ago as 2006 Sad
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#6
nevermind that - planned excavtions are likley being trashed by muddy archaeologists under badly thought out briefs, desperate to meet an arbitary commercail deadline - county archaeologists are even more likley to give the most cursory of inspections, and a doubt any will have the guts call a halt to a project until it is workable (ie can not meet original brief > therefore conditions not met).

there are real issues here, espevcially for preshistoric and more empheral archaeology (esp on multiperiod sites with other more obvious features) >

(What does the InstituteOfFA have to say ?, or still a bit tipsy after the celebratory 'do'...)
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#7
GnomeKing Wrote:nevermind that - planned excavtions are likley being trashed by muddy archaeologists under badly thought out briefs, desperate to meet an arbitary commercail deadline - county archaeologists are even more likley to give the most cursory of inspections, and a doubt any will have the guts call a halt to a project until it is workable (ie can not meet original brief > therefore conditions not met).

there are real issues here, espevcially for preshistoric and more empheral archaeology (esp on multiperiod sites with other more obvious features) >

(What does the InstituteOfFA have to say ?, or still a bit tipsy after the celebratory 'do'...)

Not always the case.
The we recently did a large job with the EA on the coast during the floods/ blizzards up here. There was no pressure from them to work in unsafe or too waterlogged conditions or to rush the job too much. They were understanding of the truly horrendous conditions.
The poor weather actually extended the job. Also the principle contractor site manager had to keep banning us from going onto site due to snow/fog/flooding.

Health and safety concerns can prevent the need/pressure to work on sensitive areas of archaeology that are so wet they end up stuck to your boots.
Save your boring long field system ditches for wet days!
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#8
GnomeKing Wrote:nevermind that - planned excavtions are likley being trashed by muddy archaeologists under badly thought out briefs, desperate to meet an arbitary commercail deadline - county archaeologists are even more likley to give the most cursory of inspections, and a doubt any will have the guts call a halt to a project until it is workable (ie can not meet original brief > therefore conditions not met).

there are real issues here, espevcially for preshistoric and more empheral archaeology (esp on multiperiod sites with other more obvious features) >

(What does the InstituteOfFA have to say ?, or still a bit tipsy after the celebratory 'do'...)

Currently digging the features around the edges (luckily it's a very big site with lots of edge) and on some gravel 'islands' and shouting at people who continue to leave 3" deep bootprints across the middle of the site for no good reason other than laziness (they'll find out when they're asked to hoe them out further down the line), but there are limits to how much of that sort of thing one can do to preserve the archaeology Sad
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#9
Interesting view from GK do archaeologists do to more damage to the archaeology than natural processes or even developers?Bearing in mind that the process of archaeology is destructive can one justify trashing the finite resource for academic research or community excavation? :face-stir: ( forgive stirring am in a dark place today)
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#10
Unnecessary trial trenching is often the biggest source of destruction ...don't even get me started :face-crying:
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