|ISSN 1357-4442||Editor: Simon Denison|
The CBA has commented recently on Government proposals on contaminated land, onshore oil, gas and methane development, and the management of motorways and trunk roads.
The CBA pointed out that the cleaning up of contaminated land-although desirable in many respects-is not wholly beneficial. This is the case where contamination arises from disused industrial sites that are of great archaeological interest, and where contaminated ground overlies well-preserved and often relatively uncontaminated archaeology of earlier periods. The proposals did not recognise these complexities, or even refer to relevant Government policy documents such as PPG15 (planning guidance on historic buildings) and PPG16 (planning guidance on archaeological remains).
Commenting on the Government's proposed planning guidance on onshore oil, gas, and coalbed methane development, the CBA noted that it persistently failed to take account of the historic environment alongside its references to wildlife and landscape conservation. The CBA wrote that SMR curators, conservation officers and English Heritage should be formally consulted in advance of all applications, reminding the Government of a recent case in which temporary oil and gas exploration facilities were not permitted close to the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site.
The CBA commented similarly on the proposals for motorway and trunk road maintenance, noting that they 'mention flora and fauna, but there appears to be no consideration of the historic environment'.
Historic features that need to be considered include bridges, milestones and historic buildings close to roads that could be affected by highway maintenance.
The CBA has written a detailed response to the Government's draft Stonehenge Management Plan. The plan was prepared in autumn last year and offers a broad vision for the practical long-term management of the Stonehenge area, which forms part of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. The plan accompanies both the Stonehenge Master Plan, published last April, which provides a short-term action plan for the improvement of the Stonehenge landscape, and the Avebury Management Plan which was issued in 1998.
The CBA welcomed the management plan, supporting its broad aims; but called for a stronger commitment to an exemplary standard of environmental management of the area - for example in the design and construction of the new road and tunnel scheme, and in the provision of incentives to farmers to implement outstanding agri-environment management practices within the World Heritage Site.
To deepen understanding of how the present character of the World Heritage Site relates to its historic usage, the CBA called for a Historic Landscape Character Assessment to be undertaken. The CBA also noted that the plan's approach to safeguarding the visual setting of monuments should place more emphasis on the unfolding of views as one moves through the landscape, rather than on static viewpoints.
On research, the CBA noted that the draft plan sets an exclusive agenda arguably based on the position of one or two funding bodies. The CBA urged instead that any research initiatives are to be welcomed provided that they respect the broad principles of archaeological conservation.
The History National Curriculum for England has been published in its final form, and has taken account of many of the CBA's comments on draft versions.
In the local studies section for pupils aged 7-11 (key stage 2), prehistoric settlers are included as a possible subject - the first ever mention of prehistory in the history curriculum for English schools (prehistory has long figured in curricula in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland). The CBA had lobbied for the retention of local studies as a unit of study and welcomed its survival.
The CBA also welcomed the new Science National Curriculum for England, which contains a requirement to teach radiocarbon dating to pupils aged 14-16 (key stage 4).
The winners of the Young Archaeologists' Club (YAC)'s 'Young Archaeologist of the Year' competition last year were, in the junior section, Rhys Coombs of Uxbridge (aged 10), and in the senior section, Philippa Rossiter of Clevedon, Somerset (aged 14). Competitors were asked to design a stained glass window based on archaeological themes. The prize was a tour of 7th century Jarrow Church, near Newcastle, with the distinguished Anglo-Saxon scholar Rosemary Cramp, and a visit to the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.
The YAC now has 3,000 members aged 9-16 (8-16 in Scotland) in 51 branches across the country. New branches have recently opened in Bath/Bristol and Dean/Chepstow. For information on membership, or on opening a new branch, contact Don Henson at the CBA in York.
The date of National Archaeology Days this year has been set for 22-23 July.
Work on the scanning of all out-of-print CBA research reports and occasional publications has now been completed by the Higher Education Digitisation Service, following a grant from the Fast Track Digitisation Programme. Work is now underway to prepare the material for online access through the Archaeology Data Service (http://ads.ahds.ac.uk).
The first batch of reports will be placed online in the spring, with further batches appearing later in the year. All the reports will be available free of charge to anyone with access to the Internet.
In 1999, the CBA received 1.1 million hits on its website at http://www.britarch.ac.uk (although the CBA is not the only organisation with pages on this site).
The CBA Guide to UK archaeology online (http://www.britarch.ac.uk/info/uklinks.html) has been accepted as part of the WWW Virtual Library (http://www.w3.org.vl/).
The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the CBA a further £178,000 towards the continuation of its Defence of Britain project which will now run until at least early 2002.
The project is now focusing on information relating to anti-invasion defences from World War II. In all, the project has received over 13,000 site records from volunteers and interested members of the public, of which 8,500 are records of anti-invasion sites.
The project's web site can be found at http://www.britarch.ac.uk/projects/dob.
Last year the CBA received, for its comments, copies of 4,418 applications for consent to alter listed buildings (of which 921 were marked for no further action). Of the 3,497 remaining applications, the CBA made site visits to 268 (8%) and wrote 418 letters (12%).
The CBA has been compiling a database of listed building notifications in England since 1996, and has now been awarded nearly £4,000 from the Heritage Grant Fund to evaluate and analyse the information contained within it. The project, to be completed by the end of March, will be undertaken by Gill Chitty of Hawkshead Archaeology & Conservation in conjunction with CBA staff.
The CBA is developing an online information service providing career information and details of archaeological education and training courses, and conferences. The new service will be funded by English Heritage following discussion within the Archaeology Training Forum (http://www.britarch.ac.uk/training).
The information will be fully accessible online, via the CBA's web site, and there will also be a helpline for individual contacts. The CBA hopes to launch the new service later in the year.
Compiled by Simon Denison
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© Council for British Archaeology, 2000