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Ok, in these days of lockdown where ‘normal’ life has changed for us all, it’s time for a bit of speculation. Imagine you’ve hit the big one, a seven figure sum from the lottery, and decide to donate a percentage of your win to benefit archaeology. How much would you donate, and what would you spend it on?

There are several archaeological areas of investigation that could benefit from your new-found altruism. But which would you choose? Here are some of the available options:

Pre-excavation investigations

Is there a site crying out for archaeological investigation local to you? Has your area’s archaeological society already begun desk-based assessment on the site? Would the site benefit from a non-invasive on-the-ground assessment – e.g. geofizz or other survey work?

Excavation

Would you consider funding, or part-funding an excavation in your area? Many digs are funded by volunteers paying to learn excavation techniques from the professionals, or by using unpaid/student labour. But project plans must be paid for, as must hire of essential equipment and qualified personnel.

Post Excavation Activities

Conservation

Two aspects of conservation to consider are that of the site itself, and that of any finds associated with the site. Both of these options are potentially very expensive. Consider that if the site is a heritage building, costs may well run into the millions. And finds? Even a small dig can unearth large quantities of pottery, flint etc. If you’re lucky enough to unearth Roman mosaic, or even early medieval ‘treasure’ then the costs can rise dramatically.

Documentation

Often the poor relation in terms of PR, but an essential part of any excavation, that is all too commonly overlooked. Yet the compilation of results and subsequent publication of the report is often the true treasure of any dig and often the only lasting legacy – remembering that all excavation is ultimately destructive.

Other areas of opportunity

Restoration

This can be a contentious area, depending upon the subject of the restoration. Arguments can arise as to the authenticity of materials used, and even the original form (Crosby Garrett helmet, anyone?) Done poorly, restoration can ruin the ambience and appearance of a site. Done well, huge benefits can accrue in terms of longevity, tourism etc.

Security

Heritage crime in all its forms is on the rise. The Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) now has a special unit to deal with such issues. Areas of particular concern include:

  • Architectural theft – in particular, metal and stone
  • Criminal damage – in particular, damage caused by fire (‘arson’)
  • Unlawful metal detecting (‘nighthawking’)
  • Unlawful disturbance and salvage of maritime sites
  • Anti-social behaviour – in particular, fly-tipping and off-road driving
  • Unauthorised works to heritage assets
  • Illicit trade in cultural objects

Could your contribution be used to pay for some form of security measure for your favourite or local heritage site? Maybe a CCTV installation, alarm system or on-site guardian?

Are there any areas we’ve missed? We’d be very interested to know your thoughts as to the amount you’d potentially be willing to contribute, and how (and where) you’d consider spending the money. Also, what benefits would accrue from your financial assistance? Please let us know in the comments below, or maybe you’d like to contribute a short article about your pet project that could be funded in this way. You never know, a lucky winner could be reading!

Note: No-one connected with the Heritage Journal has had a win of this nature yet (as far as I know!)

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