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Editor Mike Pitts
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Our First 60 Years
In March 1943 the president of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Alf Clapham, circulated a letter to national and local archaeological societies throughout the UK. He was seeking delegates to consider the problems which would confront archaeologists after the end of the Second World War. The consequent meeting, held on 4 May in London, agreed to establish a Provisional Council for British Archaeology, which met on 9 July. The first meeting of the newly-formed Council took place on Wednesday 8 March 1944 at 11.30 am in the rooms of the Society of Antiquaries, with Clapham as chair.
The aims of the CBA were agreed at this first meeting. Action points included ‘urging the necessity of large State grants which will be essential to deal with problems too vast or too urgent for the resources of any learned society or regional committee’, and to ‘seek to strengthen existing measures for the care and preservation of ancient historic monuments and antiquities of all kinds’. Knowing that state action depended upon public demand, the Council set out to ‘create enlightened public opinion concerning the records and monuments of the past’, and ‘work for the adequate recognition of archaeology’ in education at all levels.
Almost exactly 60 years later, with many issues discussed at the early meetings still debated today, the CBA will be holding its first General Meeting of 2004 at the British Academy on Thursday 26 February, at 11.30 am. The Government Heritage Minister, Lord McIntosh, will address the meeting, to be followed by papers on archaeology and history, with the formal business taking place just before lunch. The afternoon papers will focus on education in history and archaeology.
The second General Meeting will be in Belfast, part of a weekend of activities featuring archaeology in Ulster, following the successful Liverpool event in September 2003. The Belfast weekend (8-10 October) will link with the British Archaeological Awards ceremony at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) on 8 October. The CBA, with other local partners such as the Environment & Heritage Service, QUB and the Ulster Museum, will be organising a series of presentations, discussions, site visits and social events from the evening of 8 October through to the afternoon of Sunday 10 October.
New CBA Books
CBA publications for 2004 range in subject from prehistory to the 20th century. Fascinating discoveries across all periods are covered in Paul Frodsham’s Archaeology in Northumberland National Park (RR136, ISBN 1902771389 February £19.95). Equally original research at the other end of England informs Towards a New Stone Age: aspects of the Neolithic in South-East England, edited by Jonathan Cotton & David Field. This collection from eminent specialists combines regional overviews with new research on specific sites, artefacts and the natural environment (RR137, ISBN 1902771397 March £30).
Two titles offer new insights into early craft, industry and commerce. The Barland’s Farm Romano-Celtic Boat by Nigel Nayling & Sean McGrail is a comprehensive description and analysis of this well-preserved boat from south east Wales (RR138, ISBN 1902771400 March £32). The latest contribution to the popular ‘craft, industry and everyday life’ series is Leather & Leatherworking in Anglo-Scandinavian & Medieval York by Quita Mould, Ian Carlisle & Esther Cameron (AY17/16 Archaeology of York series, December £25).
The importance of archaeology to understanding our recent past is conveyed by Modern Military Matters. Studying & Managing the Twentieth-Century Defence Heritage in Britain by John Schofield (ISBN 1902771370, January £5.95).
Casework and Local Government
In parallel with the heritage designations and consents reviews in England, English Heritage is reviewing its casework procedures and discussing these issues with the CBA and other bodies, including those like the CBA who are statutorily notified of proposals for demolishing or altering listed buildings. The CBA has also reviewed its casework, recruited more volunteer listed building correspondents, up-dated its guidance and held another training session. We will be looking at the arrangements through which some of the major county societies represent the CBA in commenting on listed building cases in their areas.
Heritage services in local government always come under pressure at this time of year as authorities look hard at their budgets. Over the last two months the CBA has made representations to the local authorities for Lancashire, Gloucester , Winchester, Salisbury and Worthing about threatened cuts to a variety of heritage, museum and archaeological services.
The CBA has created an email discussion list for archaeology and education. Much of the content will relate to higher and further education, but education in schools, continuing education, and lifelong learning will also be discussed. The list will act as a point of contact and information between the CBA’s biennial archaeology and education conference. An occasional newsletter will be distributed to keep members updated on current issues. To join or view the message archive go to www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/britarch-education.html.
The distinctive Samson and Goliath cranes at Belfast's shipyard, each spanning 140m and capable of moving 840 tonne loads, were scheduled by the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service in October. Goliath was built in 1969, Samson in 1974. The Harland and Wolff dock once employed 30,000 and built the Titanic, but now has a force of 130. The docks were of great social as well as economic significance to Belfast.
The CBA, with the Society of Antiquaries of London, has proposed a consortium of archaeological journal publishers to make the contents of current print journals available in electronic format to paying subscribers. It is envisaged that this will enable society publishers, in particular, to access new markets, gain readers and generate extra revenue. Surveys indicate that electronic journals are significantly more used than print versions. Details at www.access2archaeology.info.
CBA web:Jan/Feb 2005