Editor Mike Pitts
Campaigns and reports from the CBA
Whitefield saved - for now
Pendle District Council wanted to demolish Victorian terraced housing at Whitefield, in Nelson, Lancs. Local residents and campaigning heritage groups such as the CBA have won the long-running inquiry. The inspector, who clearly recognised both the historic and modern community significance of the area, was unconvinced by the council’s argument that clearance would cure problems of social and economic failure. With many other areas under similar pressure, the idea that fundamental ills can be cured simply by clearing old houses remains alive: not least in Pendle, where the council have now published a draft local plan proposing further extensive clearance.
Best of British archaeology
In late September we showcased the archaeology of the North West region in a major weekend event at the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool, with local partners CBA North West, National Museums Liverpool and the Merseyside Archaeological Society. Talks, site visits, discussions and social events attracted over 130 people.
Loyd Grossman, in the annual Beatrice de Cardi lecture, spoke on the relevance of history and heritage to modern life. Former CBA Director Richard Morris and author Alan Garner presented an entertaining account of archaeological and architectural investigations at Garner’s house in Cheshire. The relaxed nature of the weekend provided an opportunity for CBA members to chat with archaeologists from all over the UK, including many CBA trustees. CBA President Francis Pryor bravely faced a group from the Merseyside and Dee branch of the
Young Archaeologists’ Club, and handled with aplomb all their questions.Following this success, the CBA is planning to put on a similar weekend event annually. Next year we hope to visit Belfast over the weekend 8-10 October, to tie in with the British Archaeological Awards ceremony to be held there on October 8. Further details will be announced in the next British Archaeology.
The north bank show
In October the CBA led groups from the Historic Environment Forum to meet Heritage Minister Lord McIntosh. We stressed the need to make the most of any opportunity to rationalise heritage legislation, the vital role of local authority services and the importance of grass-roots bodies. In November we met Estelle Morris, the Minister responsible for cultural objects, to discuss Iraq, ratification of the Hague Convention, implementation of the Dealing in Cultural Objects Act, and the Portable Antiquities Scheme. The CBA, English Heritage and the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee gave evidence to the Commons Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee concerning conservation and spatial planning of the marine environment.
Alex Hunt, the CBA’s Research and Conservation Officer, left at the end of October to join the National Trust as Policy Officer for their Yorkshire Region. We are grateful for everything Alex contributed in almost four years with the CBA and wish him well in his new post.
New help for teaching
The CBA website has a new directory of resources for teachers and students of archaeology (http://www.britarch.ac.uk/ educate/index.asp). Compiled by the Education Officer, it is full of valuable information for anyone wishing to use archaeological evidence in their teaching: details of organisations providing teaching resources for archaeology, archaeological sites and museums to visit, lists of books suitable for further and continuing education and of relevant websites; soon it will also have searchable databases of books for teaching archaeology in schools, and useful audio-visual resources. There is also a guide to where archaeology fits into the education system across the UK at all levels from 5-14 education through to higher education. Archaeological evidence and archaeology itself is, or can be, more widely taught than many would think.
Writing GCSE history
A new style of GCSE for history is being considered by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. The criteria for a hybrid GCSE, both academic and vocational, have been agreed by a working party that included the CBA Education Officer. It is now up to the awarding bodies to bid to create a specification and run the pilot project in 2004-06. The new GCSE will consist of a core based around three areas of study, to be taken as a short course GCSE in 2004-05. The areas of study will be a local topic investigating what heritage means to the community; UK-wide ethnic and social diversity from original medieval sources (400-1500); and a historical perspective on how a recent controversial international issue or event has been portrayed by protagonists and commentators. Optional units will be studied in 2005-06, to make up a single award GCSE. The new GCSE offers excellent opportunities to use archaeological evidence, and is an alternative to more traditional approaches to history at age 14-16.
New bottles, old wine
The CBA and the Society of Antiquaries of London hosted a meeting in October to discuss electronic versions of archaeological journals. It is hoped that grouping online journals by a consortium of archaeological society publishers will encourage new online readers and greater use of articles. At the meeting over 60 individuals represented a wide range of national, regional, local and specialist societies, as well as commercial publishers, librarians and editors. There was general agreement on the benefits of a consortium, and the CBA and the Society of Antiquaries are now working on a detailed proposal which will be circulated for consultation in December. Further information on the proposals can be found on the CBA’s web server at www.access2archaeology.info.
In York on October 26 Julian Richards, presenter of the BBC’s Blood of the Vikings series, gave the Young Archaeologist of the Year awards to Joseph Thorne (11, from Cardiff) for his Staeringa Saga, and to Emma Silvey (15, from Middlesex) for her Gehod’s Son, two stories told in the style of Viking sagas. Thanks to the National Trust, the York Archaeological Trust and the York Museums Trust, Thorne and Silvey also got to stay at the Hilton Hotel, have a guided tour of JORVIK and a behind-the-scenes look at Viking artefacts in the Yorkshire Museum.
CBA web:Jan/Feb 2005