First humans in Britain
Editor Simon Denison
Campaigns and reports from the CBA
Managing the maritime cultural heritage
The CBA responds to Government consultation on the future of Britain's seas
The CBA has responded to the Government's 'Seas of Change' consultation which set out its overarching vision for the future of the seas around the UK (writes Alex Hunt).
We welcomed the commitment 'To increase our understanding of the marine environment, its natural processes and our cultural marine heritage' but suggested that the strategic goals need be extended. These goals should include:
Meanwhile, the CBA, in association with the European Association of Archaeologists, ICOMOS UK, the Nautical Archaeology Society and the IFA, has sent a joint letter to mps in support of Edward O'Hara's Early Day Motion calling on the Government to improve protection of the underwater cultural heritage (see BA, December, March), prompted by a proposal to mount a treasure hunt on the wreck of the warship 'Sussex'.
The MoD has, however, deferred approval of Marine Odyssey Exploration Inc's proposal to allow revisions and resubmission, and to provide sufficient time for scrutiny by the English Heritage-chaired Archaeological Review Group set up by the MoD.
Government plans for future of airports
After a judicial ruling, the Government must now include Gatwick in its consultation about the future of UK airports. With another tranche of listed buildings potentially being demolished at Gatwick, the severe impact of any proposals to extend airports in the South East has been underlined.
The Government's draft guidelines on Strategic Environmental Assessment (see below) highlight the inadequacy of the environmental appraisal that has take place on the airports options, and the failure to address alternatives such as fiscal measures to help manage demand for air travel and control pollution. (GL)
New Young Archaeologist of the Year competition
Each year the Young Archaeologists' Club organises an annual competition to encourage young people to take an active interest in Britain's heritage by entering the Young Archaeologist of the Year Award. In this year's competition, young people aged 9-16 are invited to write a short story in the style of a Viking saga (writes Lorraine Bathurst).
Entries can be presented as a comic strip or an illustrated story, on paper or CD Rom. Illustrations should show authentic Viking dress (no helmets with horns please), and the story should only include everyday items that would have been available to the Vikings.
For inspiration participants could try reading extracts from an original Viking saga such as that of King Harold or the History of the Earls of Orkney, or you could find out what impact the Vikings had in your area and turn that into your own Viking saga.
Bill on illicit antiquities
The CBA was disappointed that the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill did not get through its Commons second reading in January. However, Richard Allan mp, who brought forward the bill, has secured a fresh attempt to get it heard in early April and the CBA offers its full support for getting this bill on the statute book. (AH)
Directive on Environmental Assessment
The CBA has responded to a Government consultation paper on the implementation of the EEC Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment, which comes into force in 2004 (writes George Lambrick).
If properly implemented, this directive could become a powerful tool to ensure that national, regional and local government plans and development programmes pay proper regard to the historic environment.
However, we expressed concern that the proposed guidelines only dealt with local and regional authority development planning, rather than central government programmes as well.
We also criticised the proposal to amalgamate the environmental assessment (which should be a process of designing plans and programmes in order to minimise environmental damage) with sustainability appraisal (which should be an audit of how well the completed plans and programmes succeed in achieving a balance between the aims of economic development, providing for social needs and environmental management).
Update on the Newport medieval ship
The main hull of the medieval ship at Newport in South Wales was raised last autumn, leaving whatever survives of the missing bow and stern to be recovered at a later stage of construction. With this outstanding, the CBA was alarmed to hear that Newport City Council was in dispute with its archaeological contractor, the Glamorgan Gwent Archaeological Trust.
With the future of both the project - and potentially the Trust and its wider services - at stake, the CBA and others, led by the highly effective local Friends of the Newport Ship, have urged Newport Council and the Environment Minister in the Welsh Assembly to ensure that the integrity of the project is maintained, and a proper conservation and management plan drawn up. The last thing we want is for the whole thing to fizzle out in the law courts. (GL)
Parish boundaries on maps
The CBA has joined with the Ramblers Association and other environmental and outdoor recreational organisations in objecting to proposals by the Ordnance Survey to remove parish and national park boundaries from their Explorer (1:25,000) map series.
The Ordnance Survey claims that non-topographical features - in particular administrative boundaries - clutter the map and are not relevant to their 'active outdoor' target audience for the Explorer series. The CBA noted that parish boundary information was useful to large numbers of researchers and assisted in unlocking historical and archaeological information about the landscape. The Survey noted, however, that boundary data would still be available to the public through its OS Select personalised map service, albeit it a greater cost. (AH)
Changes to education in Northern Ireland
The CBA has sent a submission to the Government's consultation on a new school curriculum for Northern Ireland which proposes the replacement of traditional school subjects (eg, history) by thematic areas of learning in both primary and secondary education (writes Don Henson).
Such a radical curriculum reform presents challenges that could benefit archaeology. But we pointed out that firm and imaginative guidance would be needed if teachers were to adapt to such a curriculum and make the most of what archaeology could offer.
Online guide to research in progress
Directory of ongoing archaeological work will complement CBA guide to published research
The CBA has secured funding from the British Academy and English Heritage to develop and pilot an online guide to archaeological research in progress. This will complement the new online version of the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography - our guide to published archaeological research - which is shortly to be launched (writes Mike Heyworth).
There is currently no readily searchable database where it is possible to discover what archaeological research is currently being done in Britain or by British institutions working overseas. The broad aims of the new initiative will be to provide information that will help users assess how new research proposals relate to other initiatives in the UK, which funding sources and institutions support research, and current research trends in general. The service will provide a possible starting point for critical reviews of current research trends, and will support collaboration between researchers and interest groups.
The project is initially for one year, and one of its aims is to assess how it might be established on an ongoing basis if it proves as useful as we expect.
CBA web:Jan/Feb 2005