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Editor Mike Pitts
Campaigns and reports from the CBA
CBA deputy director Mike Heyworth became director on 1 August, succeeding George Lambrick, who will remain until the October AGM to finish some projects. He is only the fifth director in the CBA’s 60 year history (or strictly the fourth, as the first, Beatrice de Cardi, was called the secretary: see My Archaeology).
President Francis Pryor said ‘Archaeology has never been more popular in the UK and nobody knows the world of archaeology better than Mike. The CBA is in his blood and I know that he will be an effective campaigner for British Archaeology in the challenging years ahead’. Mike Heyworth told BA about his passion for the subject.
‘When I was 14, living in the Test Valley in Hampshire, I was invited to work on an Iron Age settlement in Andover. I was lucky that the local archaeological unit’s director, Kevin Stubbs, relied on voluntary weekend labour and provided training and support. After that I worked on a Roman villa, a Mesolithic settlement, a Medieval settlement and within a Saxon Abbey precinct – all by the age of 17!
‘I was completely absorbed. My sixth form tutor gave me days off to help on rescue excavations. So I never really considered any other career. I studied prehistory and archaeology at Sheffield University, and then specialised in scientific methods in archaeology at Bradford.
‘My first job was a research assistantship looking at a new analytical technique called inductively coupled plasma spectrometry (ICPS). That led to doctoral research on the technology of Early Medieval glass from Winchester and Southampton. ICPS is now used routinely for chemical analysis of archaeological samples, but it wasn’t always routine for me – including the time the fume cupboards stopped in a power cut and the room filled with acid vapour! After that I worked at the English Heritage Ancient Monuments Laboratory in London with Justine Bayley (the sister of our York MP), where I became interested in computers in archaeology.
‘In 1990 I joined the CBA to set up a computerised archaeological bibliography for Britain and Ireland, building on Cherry Lavell’s amazing work. I have been with the CBA ever since. I’m now the second longest serving employee.
‘In those days the CBA had headquarters in London and an office in York. I moved north when I became the new information officer. The London office closed and all staff came together in York at Bowes Morrell House. I was involved in two office moves within six months and I’m not looking forward to another, although we will be in a much stronger position once it is over.
‘The CBA’s key role is putting people in touch with the past at a variety of levels: promoting public participation, campaigning nationally and locally for the historic environment, and demonstrating what study of the past can offer. I am very pleased we adopted the Young Archaeologists’ Club in the mid 1990s: I want to boost the club’s services, and engage with more young people. As a charity we focus on education, through publications like this magazine, our expanding web site and information services, and events like National Archaeology Days and our new annual weekend meeting (this year in Belfast 8-10 October). There is a thirst for knowledge about the past. Putting people in touch with their past can improve the quality of their lives. We also need to think about future generations, so our conservation work is vital – particularly commenting on proposals for listed buildings in England and Wales, where we can make a real difference by encouraging appreciation and sympathetic use of older buildings.
‘We will need to work with our partners and members, particularly local societies, to persuade politicians that archaeology matters. We are very fortunate to have a committed All Party Parliamentary Group for Archaeology and I hope to work closely with them to influence government to support our sector. If you think you can help us make a difference, do contact me at the CBA offices.’
The CBA is concerned about rumours that the AQA exam board will be dropping GCSE archaeology with a number of other subjects. The reasons for the cull are commercial, not educational. As AQA is the only board that offers GCSE archaeology, this also raises concern over the future of the AS/A level. The CBA is represented on the History and Archaeology Subject Committee of AQA, but was not consulted and has received no notification of the decision.
The CBA and the University of Newcastle are to organise a World Heritage Education Forum in 2005. This will bring together overseas students and teachers to meet their British counterparts. The DCMS are keen to see Britain taking action on this area, and the conference should do a great deal to support future education at World Heritage Sites.
Bowes Morrell House in York has become increasingly cramped as staff numbers have grown and the paperless office failed to materialise. It has been purchased by the York Conservation Trust (formed in 1945 by John Bowes Morrell and his brother Cuthbert Morrell), allowing us to move to one of their other premises (the CBA signed a 20 year lease when it took over Bowes Morrell House in 1992). The Grade II listed early Victorian St Mary’s House on the north side of York (in Bootham), with five floors, a small garden and large double garage, is close to the York University Department of Archaeology and ten minutes from the railway station. We hope to move in October. CBA members and subscribers are very welcome to call in. Contact details will appear in the next BA.
CBA web:Jan/Feb 2005