This year’s Festival of British Archaeology has some great events and we’ll be highlighting some in the coming weeks. One general point stands out though. Archaeologists are always wanting better funding so you’d expect the Festival to be used to demonstrate to the Public that every penny of their taxes spent on Archaeology and the historic environment is well spent. Mostly it is. But ….
Dowsing? Good luck to dowsers, they’re entitled to their hobby but should the Archaeo-church be so broad as to include them? Should the Festival include a demonstration of “archaeology dowsing techniques” to locate and record a former house? Shouldn’t Archaeology be presenting itself as something that doesn’t include some things? After all, no-one would want their taxes spent on the NHS if it included projects conducted by witchdoctors!
And then there’s metal detecting. Which archaeologist would wish the public to think artefact hunting is Archaeology. Or even worse, that Archaeology is artefact hunting! However widely you define Archaeology, collecting stuff for personal benefit it ain’t. Yet it’s still there in full view (albeit less than last year) in the heart of the Festival listings. So perhaps the church IS too broad?