ISSN 1357-4442Editor: Simon Denison

Issue no 44, May 1999


Improvements ahead for this magazine

Next year will bring more pages, colour and a redesign. Simon Denison explains

It is unusual, perhaps, for a magazine to devote its comment page to news about itself, but good news - as they say - will out. British Archaeology is about to enjoy its most exciting development since we were launched at the start of 1995.

Back then, we set out to create a news-magazine about archaeology that would be lively, novel and well-written enough for the `intelligent general reader', but also rigorous enough for the academic. It is hardly for us to say whether we have succeeded. But our articles are regularly picked up by the national and local media, and several stories go around the world; our Letters page overflows with vigorous debate; and we continue to receive, virtually weekly, heartening letters from many of our readers telling us how much they enjoyed this article or that. Our readership numbers seem to rise inexorably. For all this support we are profoundly grateful.

Now, from the first issue of next year, we plan a major expansion in the magazine, doubling in size to around 40 pages plus cover. We will also introduce colour to the inside pages, together with a more dynamic internal presentation giving each feature an individual design.

These changes will allow us a greater range of content, with improved flexibility and depth. Entirely new types of article will appear. Features which cry out for more detail and development will be granted the length they deserve. Illustrations will be both more compelling and more informative, the increased space of the magazine allowing us to do justice, at last, to the numerous superb archaeological pictures that pass over the editorial desk.

Moreover, Briefing - our listing of excavations, exhibitions and other forthcoming events - will be incorporated into every magazine, rather than published separately as at present.

Remarkably, these improvements will be achieved at no extra cost to the magazine's publisher, the CBA. Developments in printing technology have meant that, by publishing the magazine six times a year, a much larger magazine with significant colour content can be produced and mailed for roughly the same overall price as the present, much shorter monochrome format. British Archaeology will, from next year, appear bi-monthly in February, April, June, August, October and December, giving readers at least a third more pages overall each year than they receive at present.

British Archaeology exists principally to serve the CBA's strategic role in public education - `to increase public knowledge of, and interest in, Britain's past', as the charity's strategy document puts it. We have always aimed to reach this wider public by rigorous (often ferocious) editing of our contributors' content and style, in order to appeal - without sensationalism or other forms of harlotry - to readers with an inquisitive enthusiasm but little specialist knowledge about our history.

Our mainstay will continue to be the new discoveries and novel interpretations we report at present. But with an expanded, brighter and more substantial magazine next year, we hope to reach even further out, to attract readers eager to join archaeology's great and fascinating voyage of discovery but at present wary of the subject on the printed page.

We aim also to find more space in British Archaeology for our campaigns. Indications are that our present campaigns - for the better protection of battle-fields and hedgerows, for the retention of local government historic-conservation services, and for a more sensitive attitude within Government towards the historic environment, amongst other matters - are beginning to be heard. As always, at British Archaeology we welcome information from readers on wrongs that need to be righted, and ideas for campaigns that you would like us to undertake.

Archaeology, as an intellectual pursuit in Britain, is flourishing. Thrilling new ideas, based on new discoveries, flow weekly out of universities, research laboratories and field units, both professional and amateur. British Archaeology's role is to bring you the best of this work, and with the promise of an expanded and improved magazine, we can look forward to doing so even more effectively in the future.

Simon Denison is Editor of British Archaeology

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© Council for British Archaeology, 1999