The voice of archaeology in Britain and beyond

Cover of British Archaeology 95

Issue 95

July/August 2007



Compassion revealed in Quaker finds

Did comb dress Celtic beard or horse's mane?

Consultation continues over future of Scotland's heritage

Popular Scottish hillfort is probably Pictish

In Brief & Phase 2


Archaeology: The Blair Years – How did we do?
Enough of politics, here's the real legacy of the last decade

In Holy Union - Gothic ivories reunited
Mark Redknap describes his eureka moment

Building a New World - Digging up Jamestown
Geoff Egan says the Virginia colony can tell us about Britain

on the web

Recommended websites
Virtual landscapes and research on Hadrian's Wall


Views and responses

CBA correspondent

Campaigns, comment and communications from the CBA
Mike Heyworth on education and training in archaeology


ISSN 1357-4442

Editor Mike Pitts

CBA correspondent

Mike Heyworth on archaeology and education, education... training!

Campaigns, comment and communications from the CBA

When Tony Blair promised to focus on education ten years ago, it seemed good news for archaeology. There is now considerable evidence of archaeology's educational value, not just in its own right, but as a way of engaging students of all ages in a variety of subjects. Nearly all of the national curriculum can be taught through archaeology. The demand for adult or continuing classes in archaeology and local history, and the strong application figures for archaeology at university were all indicators of its educational potential.

Yet with the loss of archaeology GCSE, declining university applications and the collapse in some areas of archaeology's continuing education sector, there is now a real sense of disappointment. The apparent failure to persuade the Department for Education and Skills that life in these islands goes back well before the Romans (like 700,000 years before!) continues to deny many young people the opportunity to study their local prehistoric archaeology.

However, not all is doom and gloom, as reported by the CBA's head of education and outreach Don Henson (CBA news, Mar/Apr). Archaeology has much to offer in the increasingly important area of vocational skills, although the government's emphasis on training and vocational qualifications may have led to some of the continuing education sector's difficulties. This and the introduction of student loans may also partly be responsible for falling archaeology applications at university. We need to redouble our efforts to get archaeology's value across to politicians and officials. It has huge public interest, and involves the use of wide-ranging and transferable skills, based on knowledge and understanding.

Vocational qualification

Apositive development in April was the launch of a new vocational qualification in archaeological practice, at the City of London's marketing suite amongst the remains of London's Roman amphitheatre. This was the culmination of over three years work by many people, particularly staff from the Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA), with archaeologists working with qualification providers Education Development International, supported by the Creative and Cultural Industries Sector Skills Council.

Based on the national occupational standards for archaeological practice (see, which describe what competent people in archaeology should be able to achieve, the new qualification provides a means of formally accrediting on-the-job training, as well as a nationally-recognised skills framework in areas such as research, conservation and health and safety. As Kenneth Aitchison, head of professional development at the IFA, said at the launch: "To be able to finally offer a recognised qualification to both professional and amateur archaeologists is a huge achievement. We hope that archaeologists across the UK will be able to benefit from its development."

The new qualification is aimed at both paid and voluntary practising archaeologists. For those working in archaeology, it will provide a means of recognising skills and demonstrating competence. It will enable the accreditation of the all-important informal, on-the-job training. For amateur archaeologists, it will enable the accreditation of skills against exactly the same framework as those working in archaeology. It will also provide a mechanism for ensuring quality and consistency of training, and may provide an alternative route into archaeology from more diverse backgrounds. For the discipline as a whole, it provides us with a means to assess quality and maintain standards.

The skills focus is important, because archaeologists undertake many activities from field practice to laboratory work, information management to education, specialist research to artefact curation and display. The range of skills is exceptional – two to three times greater than in comparable groups or professions.

These developments are being overseen by the UK-wide Archaeology Training Forum, set up in 1998 to promote skills and raise standards. It brings together all parts of the archaeological sector. The CBA is a key member of the ATF and currently provides the forum's online information service ( – although more funding is needed to develop this into the fuller service now required.

Newskills needed

The current skills focus is also particularly timely in light of the recently published heritage white paper,Heritage Protection for the 21st Century (News, May/Jun; see The proposals will bring listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments into a single register, with registered parks, gardens and battlefields. Decisions on what are currently scheduled monument consent applications will be devolved to local authorities, requiring expanded skills and experience within their curatorial teams. The difficulty that this poses for smaller district authorities in particular, where often there is a single conservation officer relying on county teams for support, is especially apparent.

The white paper aims for a protection system that is understandable and accessible. It will provide the public with better information about how it works and why things are protected. It will also provide people with better access to improved information about their historic environment. This will help individuals, owners and community groups join in identifying and protecting their own heritage.

The CBA is already working on the training now needed, through our regional group network across England, and through CBA Wales/Cymru.

CBA training

The CBA's community conservation coordinator, Sue Morecroft is assessing the diverse needs of CBA groups and members in each area. We also hope to develop more online resources, working with others such as the English Heritage HELM website ( and Heritage Link (

We want to help the CBA's regional groups and our listed building volunteers develop skills for championing the historic environment. We want to strengthen the network of volunteer caseworkers and agent organisations who support our work as a statutory amenity society. And we want to assist our CBA groups with the skills, information and guidance that they need, particularly to engage with the modern planning system and with electronic information and communication.

We are also talking to English Heritage, who are part-funding the community conservation work, about practical training for voluntary CBA members in areas like building recording, aerial photography interpretation and field survey. An announcement about pilots in two areas of England will be publicised soon.

The training and skills focus is timely, not least because of the link with the heritage protection reforms in England and Wales. However, it is important we do not lose sight of the key distinction between training and education, and the particular importance of education at all levels. Training and vocational skills are useful and necessary: but education alone empowers.

Mike Heyworth is chair of the Archaeology Training Forum and director of the CBA

CBA web:

British Archaeology

Jan/Feb 2005
Mar/Apr 2005
May/Jun 2005
Jul/Aug 2005
Sep/Oct 2005
Nov/Dec 2005
Jan/Feb 2006
Mar/Apr 2006
May/Jun 2006
Jul/Aug 2006
Sep/Oct 2006
Nov/Dec 2006
Jan/Feb 2007
Mar/Apr 2007
May/Jun 2007
Jul/Aug 2007
Sep/Oct 2007
Nov/Dec 2007
Jan/Feb 2008
Mar/Apr 2008
May/Jun 2008
Jul/Aug 2008
Sep/Oct 2008
Nov/Dec 2008
Jan/Feb 2009
Mar/Apr 2009
May/Jun 2009
Jul/Aug 2009
Sep/Oct 2009
Nov/Dec 2009
Jan/Feb 2010
Mar/Apr 2010
May/Jun 2010
Jul/Aug 2010
Sep/Oct 2010
Nov/Dec 2010
Jan/Feb 2011
Mar/Apr 2011
May/Jun 2011
Jul/Aug 2011
Sep/Oct 2011
Nov/Dec 2011
Jan/Feb 2012
Mar/Apr 2012

CBA Briefing

Courses & lectures
CBA Network
Grants & awards

CBA homepage