Lasers at Stonehenge
Editor Mike Pitts
Campaigns and reports from the CBA
Taking part in archaeology
The CBA has published two reports concerning public participation in archaeology (see Issues).
The results of the 'stakeholder' study of local societies' involvement in different kinds of archaeological activities, including their engagement with the strategic planning process can be seen on the CBA website (www.britarch.ac.UK/conserve/planning/stakeholder.html). This includes 10 guidance notes under the general title 'Planning for Archaeology and the Historic Environment - Having Your Say' which explain the basics of how to influence different aspects of the planning process. These notes will also be published as a CBA Handbook later this year.
The CBA's Working Party on Public Participation has also now reported, drawing mainly on responses to a simple questionnaire circulated to CBA members and affiliated bodies, together with other information compiled by the CBA secretariat (www.britarch.ac.UK/participation/index.html). The report records a wide range of perceived barriers to participation, including professionalisation and over-segregation of the discipline; problems with the status of archaeology in education and museums; over-narrow perceptions of archaeology - combined with an unfulfilled demand for excavation opportunities; communication issues; and the diminished role of local societies and groups.
Using reported cases, the report also highlights good practice across a broad range of opportunities for participation, giving practical examples of how many of the perceived barriers can be - and often have been - overcome. The report makes several recommendations on how all sectors of the archaeological community could contribute to enhancing opportunities for voluntary participation and public enjoyment of archaeology.
CBA Education Conference 2003
The latest CBA biennial conference on archaeology and education was held in York. Speakers from as far as the Netherlands and Spain, as well as from UK organisations such as the National Trust and English Heritage, addressed over 100 participants on topics including internet use in education, Heritage Lottery funding of education projects, educational use of re-enactment, and access to higher education. Several delegates were involved in running the Young Archaeologists' Club; YAC held a seminar about the Club and young people in fieldwork. This was the last conference to be presided over by Peter Stone, the retiring Chair of the CBA Education & Training Committee, who outlined in his address the changes over the last six years in UK heritage education. As the conference showed, there are many examples of good education work within all sectors of archaeology. There is a greater commitment to an outward looking archaeology in various parts of the country. However, as Stone noted, there are also causes for concern, for example over how future education work will be supported nationally, and the continued lack of funding for local archaeological education or outreach posts. A conference account will be placed on the CBA website. The next conference will be held in 2005, when, once again, we hope to highlight many more successes and how some of our current concerns will have been overcome.
Holidaying in Cornwall in June, a Young Archaeologists' Club discovered two stone burial or clearance cairns of probable Bronze Age date on Minions Moor (Bodmin Moor). Experts have since examined the sites and are planning further research when vegetation has died down. Holiday leader and CBA trustee Tony Blackman said: 'The group literally stumbled over these finds and were quick to realise their relevance within the ancient prehistoric landscape of this area'. With 70 branches, the YAC and its members regularly make new discoveries, working in close contact with local archaeologists. The North Downs Branch recently found an Iron Age enclosure near Maidstone. Plans for the design of a country park were altered to preserve the site.
Stonehenge road proposals
Following its position statement (Briefing, BA December 2002), the CBA has lodged a formal objection to the Draft Orders for the A303 road proposals at Stonehenge. The CBA acknowledged that 'a construction method involving a bored rather than a cut-and-cover tunnel is a welcome improvement for the section of the proposal as it passes Stonehenge,' but went on to object in relation to other aspects of the scheme that:
Historic environment reviewed
After an unprecedented flurry of government reviews covering virtually every aspect of heritage conservation (Issues, BA May 2003), the CBA has highlighted the need for a more integrated and flexible approach to saving the historic environment.
We continue to work closely with English Heritage and the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers in helping DEFRA develop better protection for the rural historic environment.
This has again figured as a key issue in the reform of agri-environment schemes. The Council for Scottish Archaeology and CBA Wales/Cwmry are working with colleagues on many of the same issues.
Agri-environment provisions, increasingly important to the historic environment, are among many mechanisms being scrutinised and updated.
The Government's other proposals for heritage protection and management include several disturbing suggestions which could involve more red tape but less effective protection.
This is a uniquely important period for people to voice their ideas about how conserving the historic environment could be updated and improved.
Briefing notes on reviews (including the CBA's position) can be found on the CBA website www.britarch.ac.UK/ conserve/. Comments and views from readers (before the end of October) would be particularly welcome.
CBA web:Jan/Feb 2005