Burial with the Romans
Editor Simon Denison
Campaigns and reports from the CBA
Bulldozers in a London graveyard
In November the CBA was alarmed to hear that thousands of human remains were being bulldozed from part of the former post-medieval graveyard of St Pancras church in London, near St Pancras railway station, as part of construction works for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (writes George Lambrick).These events bizarrely repeat what happened in the 1850s when the first railway line to St Pancras caused a public outcry because of the removal of headstones from the same graveyard.
The problem arose from delays elsewhere in the project, which curtailed the time needed to deal with the burials properly, although proper archaeological and ethical removal and reburial procedures had previously been agreed - and begun - by Rail Link Engineering (RLE) and its contractors, following a full archaeological evaluation.
As a result of a campaign mounted by the CBA, the Council for the Care of Churches and English Heritage, RLE has now embarked on a modified procedure to safeguard both decency and archaeological interests in the removal of the rest of the burials.
Historic remains on farmland
The CBA has been working with English Heritage and the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers on DEFRA working parties to ensure that new arrangements for agricultural support will help more farmers to look after their archaeological sites, traditional buildings, field boundaries and other historic features of the countryside.
The need for these arrangements emerged strongly from the public consultation about the future of agri-environment schemes last year, partly spurred by the CBA's input through Wildlife and Countryside Link. The initial focus has been on developing the so-called 'entry level' agri-environment scheme - which is based on a simple package of environmental measures to attract a much larger number of farmers into the agri-environment regime.
DEFRA has announced four pilot areas for the entry level scheme covering a variety of upland, lowland, pastoral, mixed and arable farming in Devon, Durham, Hampshire/Berkshire and Lincoln/Cambridgeshire. Historic environment issues are firmly within the scheme, but to reach the maximum number of farmers administrative costs have to be minimized, so the challenge now will be to ensure that the relevant information and advice will get to farmers who want to join the scheme. (GL)
Parliamentary bill on loot
After years of lobbying by the CBA's Portable Antiquities Working Group and Standing Conference, and by a ministerial advisory panel, Richard Allen mp has tabled a private member's Bill, with Government support, to create a new criminal offence of 'acquiring, disposing of, or importing or exporting tainted cultural objects, or agreeing or arranging to do so'.
Last month the CBA responded to the Government's consultation on the 'Future Development of Air Transport in the UK'. The CBA criticised the 'predict and provide' approach, the absence of fiscal measures to control public demand for air travel, and the dangerously sketchy and misleading preliminary impact assessments which the Government had included in the consultation (see www.britarch.ac.uk/conserve/aviation)
New Year Honours
In the latest New Year Honours list, OBEs were awarded to Richard Morris, previously Director of the CBA, for services to archaeology, and to Philip Venning, Secretary of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. MBEs were given to Daphne Lorimer, Chair of the Orkney Archaeological Trust; to Donald Moore, archaeologist and art historian; and to the archaeologist Tim Strickland.
Planners to get new guidance on conserving historic environment
The CBA has given detailed advice on the drafting of a new, shorter, combined Historic Environment Planning Policy Statement (PPS) - supported by extensive guidance - which will replace the two current Planning Policy Guidance notes (PPG15 and PPG16) on historic buildings and archaeology.
The main objective of the draft PPS, now out to consultation, is to draw together common principles and approaches of the two existing PPGs, emphasising the basic principles of sustainability and informed conservation of the historic environment in managing change. It will also ensure that the process is better engaged with local communities.
The idea is to promote a more holistic approach to conservation without either weakening current provision or introducing burdensome new restrictions. The CBA will be responding to the formal consultation document, and welcomes comments from any members who have views on it. (GL)
Survey on use of heritage information resources
The Historic Environment Information Resources Network (Heirnet) - an organisation set up and managed by the CBA - has recently published an initial evaluation of the users, and uses, of historic environment information resources. The report, 'Users and their Use of HEIRS' was compiled by the Cultural Heritage Consortium (writes Kate Fernie, Heirnet project officer).
Both quantitative and qualitative data have been collected about the uses of individual heirs - through website user logs, on-line and off-line questionnaire surveys, focus groups and direct discussion with users. The survey identifies examples of current good practices in the collection of user statistics and makes recommendations for developing better understanding of users and non-users in the future. The report is available online at www.britarch.ac.uk/heirnet/publications.html
Archaeology and history in secondary schools
The CBA has been pursuing its campaign on broadening the scope of history education at secondary level (see Issues) with one of the Exam Boards and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (writes Don Henson). Representatives for history in both organisations are keen in principle to see the development of a hybrid archaeology and history GCSE, although higher approval, as well as time and money, are needed to take this forward over the next year or so.
One of the key issues is the need to show that - in addition to being academically worthwhile - history and archaeology offer vocational opportunities. The CBA will be pursuing this campaign along with other non-government bodies, the curriculum authority and the exam boards.
Reactions to campaign on the warship 'Sussex'
The CBA's campaign about the Government's deal with a us salvage company to recover bullion from the Sussex (BA, December 2002) has triggered a resolution expressing 'extreme concern' from the General Assembly of ICOMOS; a series of parliamentary questions; and a Commons early day motion calling on the Government to find better ways to protect the underwater cultural heritage. For more information, see www.britarch.ac.uk/conserve/sussex
Defence of Britain
The final report of the Defence of Britain project is now available online at www.britarch.ac.uk/projects/dob
CBA web:Jan/Feb 2005