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Too busy to follow the detail of the Government’s decimation of English Heritage? Want to take part in the public consultation on what happens next? Here’s a quick summary of the stage that has been reached so far (it’s to be split into two smaller elements, one on a financial shoestring and the other with a begging bowl) based on the words of those most closely involved:

Maria Miller, Culture Secretary said: “The new funding underlines the Government’s commitment to the heritage sector and will further protect the statutory functions of Historic England in these difficult economic times”
Translated as: “They’re on their own”!

Sir Laurie Magnus, Chairman of English Heritage said: “I am delighted that ….” and “I am also delighted that ….” and “I would like to thank the Secretary of State for taking these proposals forward”
Translated as: “We and much of what we do have been severely downgraded. Thanks!”

Simon Thurley, English Heritage Chief Executive, added: “I welcome the Government’s proposed New Model for English Heritage. It offers an opportunity for English Heritage to move forward with confidence”
Translated as: “Looking good!

and Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture has said:
The consultation outlines how Historic England will look to get the heritage protection system to work better [i.e. quicker!] for owners, developers and infrastructure providers, [i.e. for developers?], reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape [i.e. weaken the safeguards?] and support growth [i.e. make it easier to build in sensitive locations] without reducing protection for heritage” [i.e. it's magic!]

kidd2

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Kidderminster isn’t Winchester when it comes to heritage. It can boast about the carpet industry and penny black inventor Rowland Hill and 17th Century churchman Richard Baxter and superstar Robert Plant and the biggest church in Worcestershire but the list isn’t endless. So when a building that may have been associated with the Saxon minster that gave the town its name has been located and is being investigated as a community project in the churchyard of that church (see the blog here) it’s a source of a lot more local pride than would arise in many other places. When I was there someone approached me brimming with it. It was the pride of someone who clearly felt he owned it. Which of course he does, it’s his heritage.

That’s why he took a dim view of this, holes dug all over the chuchyard the night before by someone that was stealing his heritage. (They were back 2 nights later, the chuchyard is peppered).

kidd

I don’t want to tar all detectorists with the same brush” says the archaeologist in charge “but this opportunistic looting of sites is damaging and very frustrating.” Agreed, but on the other hand I do feel that not tarring most detectorists with exactly the same brush is unjustly whitewashing them. By which I mean this: the ONLY distinction that can be drawn between most detectorists (who don’t report all their finds) and the people that attacked this site (and didn’t report their finds) is “lack of permission”. The damage they do is the same. Same action. Same effect. Same loss of knowledge for the rest of society.  The damage inflicted on Kidderminster is identical to the damage inflicted on communities up and down the country thousands of times every week. Legally. People – especially landowners – should know.

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The people that sneaked past this notice with detectors were plain nasty….

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but please, please let’s not allow people to get the idea that such unpleasant, antisocial neanderdunces and their few hundred fellows do more damage than those thousands of perfectly legal non-reporters who get permission. That’s a damaging falsehood the public has been fed for 15 years. They do vastly less.

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More about what has just been revealed at this community dig shortly. (They have an Open Day next Saturday, all welcome). Will it be as exciting as the remarkably similar community dig currently going on at Polesworth, Warwickshire? Of course! Kidderminster has loads of heritage!

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More Heritage Action views on metal detecting and artefact collecting

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Who

Let’s start with an archaeologist. Charles Mount took the opportunity of last week’s Day of Archaeology to provide an insight into the state of Irish Archaeology in a contribution titled “Picking up the pieces”. He says the end of the Celtic Tiger boom has meant that

Irish archaeology has been blighted by economic failure, imposed austerity and the failure of the commercial archaeology model. Those of us who are left are trying to pick up the pieces, but the loss of collective knowledge and experience will never be made good. Many excavation archives generated during the boom years now sit in store rooms with no one now to write them up and bring them to publication”. Data from many sites “may never see the light of day”.

And now the politician. Mr Mount’s account reminded us of our article in June 2009 about Mr. John Gormley, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. He was once the author of The Green Guide For Ireland but was also the man who presided over the building of the M3 at Tara and who refused to prevent the destruction of the newly discovered National Monument at Lismullin. When launching three Codes of Archaeological Practice he made this amazing false claim that seems to underly a lot of government posturing on both sides of the sea:

“development and conservation can go hand in hand”.

He never explained how, and no wonder. Anyway, he is out of politics now and archaeologists like Mr Mount have been left with the reality and to pick up the pieces.

avedig

Do visit the dig if in Avebury this week or next!

The first excavation on West Kennet Avenue for more than three quarters of a century! The ‘Between the Monuments’ project is a collaboration between the University of Southampton under Dr Joshua Pollard, the University of Leicester under Dr Mark Gillings, and the archaeology and curatorial National Trust staff at Avebury Dr Nick Snashall and Dr Ros Cleal. The excavation on the line of the West Kennet Avenue involves two, possibly three trenches at two Neolithic sites at the foot of Avebury Down where Alexander Keiller’s excavations in 1934 unearthed remains of some form of settlement.

See here for more details
http://ntarchaeostonehengeaveburywhs.wordpress.com/
and Phone 01672 539250 after 10a.m. for tour times.

As mentioned in our recent article catching up on events in Caerau since Time Team left, Sue Brooke recently took the opportunity to speak with Dr. Oliver (Olly) Davis, who kindly agreed to take part in our Inside the Mind series.

Brief Bio:

Olly’s credentials include a BA in Archaelogy, an MA in British Prehistory and a PhD for an investigation of Iron Age communities in central and western Hampshire, all gained at Cardiff University.

He has worked for CADW, Dyfed Archaeological Trust and RCAHMW, and is currently co-director, along with Dr Dave Waytt, of the CAER Heritage Project.

His main research interests lie in the understanding of later prehistoric settlement (particularly hillforts), farming and social patterns through a consideration of landscape relationships identified through remote sensing techniques. He has taken a lead role in the development of LiDAR as an archaeological prospection tool in Wales and has published widely on the use of this technique for identifying archaeology. He is also particularly interested in the later prehistoric, Roman and early medieval settlement of Glamorgan and has undertaken extensive aerial reconnaissance and air photo mapping in the area.

As mentioned, he is a co-director of the CAER Heritage Project. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Caerau And Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project is a collaborative project between Cardiff University, Ely and Caerau Communities First, local schools and local residents. The project is based around one of Cardiff’s most important, but little-known, archaeological sites, Caerau Iron Age hillfort, and seeks to engage local people and school children in their shared history and help challenge marginalisation.

Please visit the CAER Heritage Project website  to find out more about the project.

Olly Davis

The Ten Questions.

What sparked your interest in Archaeology?

When I was about 12 years old I had a computer game called ‘Civilization’ – you got to play as Vikings, Celts etc and build up your tribe from the Stone Age to the modern world – I was hooked on learning about the past from then on!

How did you get started?

I came to Cardiff University to study archaeology – the lectures were really interesting, but it was the excavations we were involved in at the start of each summer that really got me fascinated.

Who has most influenced your career?

It has to be Niall Sharples, my PhD supervisor and the man who taught me how to dig.

Which has been your most exciting project to date?

Only one answer here – definitely the CAER Heritage Project and our work at Caerau Hillfort.

What is your favourite British archaeological site… and why?

There are a few hillforts that are bigger and more spectacular, but the site I’m most passionate about is Caerau Hillfort – it’s one of the most significant sites in the whole of the Cardiff area, yet it’s never been explored…until now!

What is your biggest archaeological/heritage regret?

Never getting to dig at Danebury.

If you could change one thing about current heritage protection legislation, what would it be?

Having a single Historic Environment Record in Wales – it’s a nonsense having both the NMR and HERs as we do at the moment – it’s confusing for the public, researchers and developers alike.

If you were able to address Parliament for 30 seconds on archaeology what would you say?

Once it’s gone, it’s gone – archaeology doesn’t grow back.

If your career hadn’t worked out, what would you be doing now?

I’d have to have worked outside and been allowed to be as scruffy as I am now, so maybe a builder

Away from the ‘day job’, how do you relax?

My girlfriend would say I never relax…except perhaps after a cider or two

Many thanks to Olly (and to Sue). Previous articles in this series can be found here,  or by using our Search Bar, and the term ‘Inside the Mind’.

If you work in community archaeology or heritage protection and would like to take part, or have a suggestion for a suitable willing subject, please contact us.

It was with  very heavy hearts that we heard the news yesterday of Mick Aston’s passing.

Mick Aston

No doubt there will be many worthy obituaries over the coming days, as befits a man who inspired so many. But mere words cannot do justice to his work. In reaching out to millions of viewers on Time Team, he has left a very tangible legacy for generations of landscape archaeologists. Rest well Professor, our thoughts are with your family and friends at this difficult time..

We recently included in our Diary Dates notice of a talk to be given by Roger Farnworth later this month, not knowing at the time that he had sadly passed away earlier in the year. We offer our apologies and condolences to his family and friends. The following short article appears in the latest Meyn Mamvro magazine, to whom we are indebted for permission to reproduce the article here. 

Roger Farnworth

Roger Farnworth sadly and unexpectedly died from lymphoma at the end of January this year. Roger was an original thinker and researcher of Cornwall’s ancient sites, and was a member of the Cornwall Archaeological Society, to whom he gave a talk in November 2012 on “Platform Cairns and the winter solstice alignments on Rough Tor”, a talk that he was planning to write up for Meyn Mamvro. He was a MM subscriber and contributor, and was particularly interested in alignments and other kinds of ‘alternative archaeology’. He wrote a two-part article on “Sightlines to the Tors and Stars” in MM63 & 64, in which he examined the relationship of the Hurlers stone circle on Bodmin Moor to the prehistoric pole star Thubon, and the ‘view frames’ that he believed were deliberately created amongst the tor rocks to highlight significant features in the Bodmin Moor landscape. As interesting as these ideas were for readers, his lively mind extended in many other directions, and he had completed two original articles for MM, one on an idea about the use of fogous, and a longer piece on the significance of cliff castles (that he was due to talk about at Pathways to the Past in May this year). MM will be publishing both of these articles, and in the current issue (no.81) are his ideas on a possible use of fogous.

More detailed obituaries, covering Roger’s wider interests can be found here and here.

Our next willing subject is someone who’s been in the news quite a bit just recently, talking about plans and progress for the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre – it’s Sue Greaney, Senior Properties Historian with English Heritage. 

Brief Bio:

Sue studied archaeology and prehistory at Sheffield University, worked very briefly for ARCUS and then took an MSc in Professional Archaeology at Oxford University Department of Continuing Education. Placements with Oxford Archaeology, the Institute of Archaeology in Oxford and the archaeological survey team at English Heritage led to her securing a temporary job with English Heritage’s Properties Research team in 2005. This work was focused on researching and writing interpretation for the free and unstaffed sites, ranging from industrial buildings to Neolithic long barrows, and including sites from the Isles of Scilly to Hadrian’s Wall. Since 2009, Sue has been working on the exhibition and interpretation planned for the forthcoming new Stonehenge visitor centre.

SueGreaney

The Ten Questions:

What sparked your interest in Archaeology?

It must have been studying ‘the Vikings’ and ‘the Romans’ at primary school, because I remember announcing aged 7 that I wanted to be an archaeologist. And I never changed my mind. Pretty soon I was a member of the local of the Young Archaeologist’s Club and a few years later Time Team started – after that at least friends at school stopped thinking I wanted to be an architect!

How did you get started?

My first excavation was two weeks work experience aged 14 with Northamptonshire Archaeology, on a DMV site near Rugby. I enjoyed it so much I asked to come back and volunteer in my summer holidays. After that I excavated at community projects including Piddington Roman Villa and Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project in Norfolk, spending a summer supervising there in 2001. By then I was in my first year at Sheffield University, studying archaeology and prehistory.

Who has most inspired your career?

Credit has to go to my university tutors, particularly Mike Parker Pearson and Mark Edmonds, who told me to question everything and how to interpret landscapes – they both made prehistory so exciting and accessible. Mark Bowden at English Heritage, who led one of my masters placements, taught me a lot about landscape survey and archaeology, and my first manager at English Heritage, John Goodall managed to instill in me a love of medieval abbeys and castles too. And all my archaeological friends from many conversations in the pub!

Which has been your most exciting project to date?

It has to be the one that I work on now, the new Stonehenge visitor centre. I’m the archaeologist/historian working on the new exhibition galleries, all the new interpretation from the website to the audio tour, the temporary gallery, the permanent gallery, the films and interactives. Now is an incredibly busy time as we open later in 2013. Within the larger project there are lots of exciting pure research things – getting new radiocarbon dates on a burial from Winterbourne Stoke long barrow, interpreting the new laser scan of Stonehenge, building our replica experimental Neolithic houses… I have to pinch myself sometimes!

What is your favourite British archaeological site… and why?

The Ring of Brodgar, Orkney. It’s a spectacular site, in a beautiful location. And it’s one of those crucial sites for understanding the late Neolithic. It’s also where I got engaged in 2008! The whole of Orkney is just packed with such great archaeology.

What is your biggest archaeological regret?

Personally, I’d have liked to have spent more time digging! Although I worked in commercial archaeology for a while, and did lots research and community excavations, sometimes I don’t quite feel that I’ve earned my digging ‘stripes’ as it were. For the sector as a whole, I regret that there remains so much unpublished archaeology out there. There’s a huge backlog of important research excavations which have never seen the light of day – Lydford, Devon; Wolvesey Castle in Winchester; barrow excavations in the Stonehenge landscape…

If you could change one thing about current heritage protection legislation, what would it be?

Funding for post-excavation and publication (ideally open-access) should be made integral to current systems. I’d also want to see all the scheduling descriptions, but particularly those sites still with old county numbers, to be updated and revised based on current knowledge.

If you were able to address Parliament for 30 seconds on archaeology what would you say?

I’d like to stress how vitally important archaeology, history and heritage is for the well-being of our communities and for our understanding of where we are today. It’s not just heritage tourism that is important, but the way that archaeology contributes to a sense of place for everyone. Please, please don’t make further cuts to funding for English Heritage – the damage done by the last spending round cuts may not be particularly visible to people outside, but we have lost so much expertise – our budgets are tiny compared to other spending, and yet the work we do is so important.

If your career hadn’t worked out, what would you be doing now?

I’m not sure – possibly graphic design or maybe running a book shop!

Away from the ‘day job’, how do you relax?

Swimming, going for country walks, real ale in the pub with friends, reading, visiting museums… Once the Stonehenge project is over I’ll hopefully have time to take up kayaking again.

We’d like to express our thanks to Sue for her responses, particularly at what is a very busy time for her.

Previous articles in this series can be found here, or by using our Search Bar, and the term ‘Inside the Mind’.

If you work in community archaeology or heritage protection and would like to take part, or have a suggestion for a suitable willing subject, please contact us.

Another in our occasional series where we peek Inside the Mind of an archaeology heritage professional. This time round it’s the turn of Keith Parfitt of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust. 

Brief Bio:

Keith’s archaeology career began whilst still at school in Dover in 1972, working on the Market Street site, then under excavation by the Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit. Returning home in 1978 after obtaining an honours degree in British Archaeology at University College, Cardiff, he joined Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit on a full time basis until he joined the Canterbury Archaeological Trust in 1990.

Significant digs include the line of the new A20 which culminated in the discovery of the Bronze Age Boat in 1992; the Buckland Anglo-Saxon cemetery in 1994, the medieval site off Townwall Street in 1996; Ringlemere the gold cup site, 2001 and ongoing; and Folkestone Roman villa 2010-2011.

Running parallel with this career, Keith has also been involved with the amateur Dover Archaeological Group. Founded in 1971, before there were any professional units doing rescue work in the county, he has been Director of Excavations for the Group since 1978, and much of his spare time is now devoted to writing-up sites.

He was elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in May 2000.

KeithParfitt

The Ten Questions:

What sparked your interest in Archaeology?

Not sure, but it was before I went to primary school.

How did you get started?

Joined a new amateur archaeology group just starting in Dover (December 1971) – I now direct it.

Who has most influenced your career?

Pitt-River, Mortimer Wheeler (through their writings); Brian Philp (on site when I was young digger).

Which has been your most exciting project to date?

Dover Bronze Age Boat, Sept 1992.

What is your favourite British archaeological site… and why?

I have many – but I suppose it needs to be Richborough – a key site in Romano-British archaeology and very near home. And, if I am allowed a second site, Dover Castle because I see it everyday and its a ‘proper’ castle.

What is your biggest archaeological/heritage regret?

All those important sites lost without record in pre-PPG 16 days, especially during the 1960s and 1970s. Important excavated sites that will never be published (for whatever reason).

If you could change one thing about current heritage protection legislation, what would it be?

Extend it to non-Scheduled sites. Maybe we need a list of sites of County importance?

If you were able to address Parliament for 30 seconds on archaeology what would you say?

Try to understand that ‘Heritage’ is not just about the built heritage – its the below ground stuff as well. The significance of the buried archaeology so often tends to be ignored/overlooked at Government level – I think, because no one really understands (excluding APPAG of course, who seem to be trying). Compare the legal protection given to bats and lizards with that given to non-Scheduled ancient monuments.

If your career hadn’t worked out, what would you be doing now?

Difficult to gauge – nothing of any great note, I suspect. Maybe something in the building industry.

Away from the ‘day job’, how do you relax?

A combination of visiting archaeological sites and country pubs.

Many thanks to Keith for taking part and providing his answers. Previous articles in this series can be found here, or by using our Search Bar, and the term ‘Inside the Mind of’.

If you work in community archaeology and would like to take part, or have a suggestion for a suitable willing subject, please contact us.

The latest in our occasional series takes a peek Inside the Mind of Tom Goskar, Digital Archaeologist.

Brief bio:

Tom Goskar is an independent archaeologist and digital heritage specialist living in west Cornwall. After a decade working for a commercial archaeology unit, he now works freelance.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

The Ten Questions:

What sparked your interest in Archaeology?

I grew up in rural Cornwall and was fascinated by the ruins of old tin and copper mines, abandoned clay workings, and anything old. Family picnics on Bodmin Moor near stone circles, and days out to Truro visiting the Royal Cornwall Museum (especially the mummy of Iset Tayef Nakht) got my imagination racing. I can remember being 9 years old and wanting to be an archaeologist. That wasn’t a fashionable ambition to have in the playground, when everyone else wanted to be a fireman or racing car driver, but I stuck with it.

How did you get started?

After college I studied archaeology at Southampton University. During the degree course I volunteered for whatever practical work I could, from cataloguing pottery to geophysical surveys, to digging test pits. I loved it. After finishing the degree I worked at Surrey History Centre for a year, helping people undertake research and answering written enquiries about the archive’s holdings. Then I returned to Southampton to embark upon the MSc in Archaeological Computing. It was hard work, but very rewarding, helping me learn to deal with large quantities of archaeological information, digitise, and interpret it. After the degree, and a bit of piecemeal work for the Archaeology Department, I got a job at Wessex Archaeology doing monument condition assessments. I was suddenly a professional  archaeologist!

Who has most influenced your career?

I’ve worked with some great people over the years, in many different areas of archaeology, and it would be tough to weigh everyone’s influence on me to list here!

Which has been your most exciting project to date?

The laser scanning and analysis of three stones at Stonehenge back in 2002-2003 was just fantastic. We discovered previously undiscovered rock art and demonstrated the potential of 3D technologies at Stonehenge to a global audience. From the initial “wow” of the discovery to the crashing of our website due to the sheer number of visitors, and the publication of my first article, I will always remember it. Recently I have begun to record medieval inscribed stones in west Cornwall, getting me out into the open again, capturing my own data. I’m testing some new methodologies for digitally enhancing 3D surface detail. Testing past interpretations and maybe lining up some new ones. That’s what’s exciting and gripping for me right now.

What is your favourite British archaeological site… and why?

Chysauster, which is a courtyard settlement in west Cornwall. The excellent preservation of the houses and a ‘street’, coupled with the incredible views over Mounts Bay, make it a stunning place to visit (in good weather!). There’s much to wonder about – and being able to walk into rooms built around 1,800 years ago – can still set the imagination going.

What is your biggest archaeological/heritage regret?

Upon leaving university, access to journals and mapping data becomes difficult, and I’m certain that it causes the unhelpful division in the archaeology sector between academic and commercial archaeology
(and anyone else for that matter). I am looking forward to the change towards open access, and further democratisation of information.

If you could change one thing about current heritage protection legislation, what would it be?

I would make Historic Environment Records statutory. I would also make all information held by them publicly accessible via the web using open formats, for good or for bad. Heritage in general needs to be protected and enjoyment of it encouraged, and open information about it is key.

If you were able to address Parliament for 30 seconds on archaeology what would you say?

I would remind the House that heritage is a huge draw for millions of tourists visiting the UK each year, who in turn generate billions of pounds for our economy. It’s time to fund archaeology and heritage accordingly.

If your career hadn’t worked out, what would you be doing now?

I would probably be working in an antiquarian book shop, designing theatre lighting, or be involved in television production. Although I have managed to do the latter two within an archaeological context…

Away from the ‘day job’, how do you relax?

Listening to lots of music, reading, cooking Indian food, learning to play the Irish Bouzouki, staring out to sea, and drinking scrumpy. I also like to walk the West Penwith footpaths when the weather allows, but living here, it invariably involves archaeology somewhere along the way!

As always, thanks are due to Tom for answering our questions. We hope to take one of those walks with him later this year.

Previous articles in this series can be found here, or by using our Search Bar, and the term ‘Inside the Mind of’.

If you work in community archaeology and would like to take part, or have a suggestion for a suitable willing subject, please contact us.

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