Years of pestilence
The medieval fleet
Editor Simon Denison
Campaigns and reports from the CBA
Young Archaeologists' Club
Since the start of the year, 12 new branches of the Young Archaeologists' Club have been set up - bringing the total to 67 across the UK - with another five in the pipeline. The club now has over 3,000 subscribing members and has become one of the fastest-growing youth organisations in Britain, with a 30 per cent annual growth rate (writes Alison Bodley).
The Young Archaeologists' Club was set up as Young Rescue in 1972, a club for 9-16 year olds who were interested in archaeology and wanted to find out more about it. The CBA took the club over in 1993 when there were just seven branches. Subscribing members now receive the club's quarterly magazine Young Archaeologist, and the opportunity to apply for the Young Archaeologist of the Year Award and to go on the popular YAC holidays. They also receive free entry to English Heritage sites, Cadw sites and about 70 participating museums (including the Jorvik Centre in York, the Ashmolean in Oxford, and Bede's World near Jarrow). Members can also attend meetings of a nearby YAC branch.
The branches are archaeological youth clubs, which meet a minimum of ten times a year. They are mostly run by volunteers and hosted by a variety of organisations including museums, archaeological units and archaeological societies. The aim is to give a rounded view of archaeology and to encourage children to think and learn whilst having fun. Pottery making, mosaic making and textiles are regular hands-on activities, as are trips to local sites and behind-the-scenes tours of local museums.
Branches also encourage children to contribute to the archaeological record. Several are regularly involved with excavation under the supervision of experienced archaeologists. In Yorkshire, the Morley and South Leeds Branch has been conducting a graveyard survey. In Scotland, the Biggar Branch regularly goes fieldwalking, sending any finds to the local museum, whilst the Isle of Lewis Branch has been surveying kelp kilns and experimenting in kelp burning.
Archaeology and education
The CBA Education Committee has agreed a set of priorities for the next five years that seeks to make the CBA more proactive in setting the agenda for archaeological education in Britain. It aims to shift the focus away from how to deliver archaeological education towards its aims and objectives (writes Don Henson).
In particular, the CBA has identified the need to clarify the role of an archaeological education in addressing issues like social inclusion, sustainability and environmental conservation.
The CBA will also be making a response to a recent consultation document from the Teacher Training Agency which contains the worrying proposal that students training to be primary school teachers should no longer have the option of specialising in the teaching of history. Other aspects of the document are more welcome, for example that graduates from a wide range of degree subjects should be welcomed onto PGCE courses and not just those with a degree in curriculum subjects. This is an issue that the CBA has been advocating for some time, and raised with the TTA last year in response to difficulties in archaeology graduates finding places on PGCE courses.
In addition, consultations are due to begin this month on proposals for changes to the school curriculum in Northern Ireland. The CBA will be keen to send in its response to this.
Intensive agriculture regulations
Agricultural activities are not, on the whole, subject to planning controls - yet many cause significant damage to archaeological remains. The CBA has therefore welcomed proposals to implement European regulations (found in the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive 1985) requiring assessment for 'projects bringing uncultivated land or semi-natural areas into intensive agricultural use which give rise to significant environmental effects' (writes Alex Hunt).
Responding in July to an initial consultation on the regulations, the CBA welcomed their introduction as 'an improved means to avoid and reduce the damage to archaeological sites and the historic environment'. However we also expressed concern that the overriding focus on ecological impacts had deflected attention away from all environmental impacts (especially, but not limited to, archaeological impacts) resulting in significant weaknesses; and we identified a number of potentially significant loopholes which might in the long run provide means for bypassing the regulations.
Last month the Government began a second round of consultation which, encouragingly, showed they had attempted to address some, but not all, of the problems identified by the CBA. We will therefore continue to press for further amendments to ensure the regulations achieve the full range of environmental protection benefits for which they were intended.
Full copies of this and other consultation responses from the CBA are now available on the CBA website at www.britarch.ac.uk/conserve
CBA web:Jan/Feb 2005