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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.


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.


March 2013

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