This is Archaeology Lecture Series

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The CBA’s new online lecture series will bring you a range of speakers from across archaeology and heritage. The lectures will be exploring a wide range of themes and ideas around the question, what is archaeology?

Speakers will draw on their own experiences, a range of sites, excavations, techniques, scientific approaches, and museum practice to bring you the latest in archaeological thinking and research.  

Collectively the lecture series will sit alongside existing CBA activities such as the Festival of Archaeology and the Archaeological Achievement Awards and contribute to a wider debate on the very nature of archaeology and how we can draw in new audiences and perceptions.


Upcoming Lectures

Maritime Archaeology: It’s not just shipwrecks!

ONLINE - Thursday 15th February 2024 at 7pm 

Explore the depths of maritime archaeology with Peta Knott, Education Manager at the Nautical Archaeology Society. Beyond the allure of shipwrecks lies a diverse field encompassing everything from historic ports and ancient trade routes to submerged prehistoric landscapes

Join Peta as she shares her experiences and discusses the often-unappreciated diversity of maritime archaeology, highlighting a variety of site types from the UK and overseas and emphasising the critical need to better appreciate and conserve our threatened maritime heritage. It will also provide heritage practitioners and history enthusiasts with some practical tips on how to share the excitement of all aspects of maritime archaeology with anyone who cares to listen.

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Rooted in History, Branching Into the Future: The Story of the Nation's Forests

ONLINE - Thursday 21st February 2024 at 7pm 

Discover the archaeology of the nation's forests with Lawrence Shaw, Lead Historic Environment Advisor at Forestry England.

The nation's forests are home to some of the best archaeological sites, historic buildings and designated landscapes found in England. Evidence of how humans have shaped these places can be found frozen in time, hidden beneath the tree canopy. The unique nature of forestry, when compared to other land uses, means that our historic record has the potential to be preserved to a much higher degree, with tens of thousands of known sites, and more than 850 protected monuments, buildings and parks and gardens found throughout our forests. The very nature of how the Forestry Commission developed, how we acquired land and how this has been managed over the last one hundred years, means that Forestry England now oversees a palimpsest of landscape histories, ranging from the Palaeolithic through to the Second World War, as well as our own histories.

This lecture will touch on just some of the incredible archaeological and historical narratives that can be found within the Nation's Forest and how Forestry England has influenced these.

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Previous Lectures

Many of the lectures from the This Is Archaeology series are recorded and available to watch again via the members area of the CBA website

Bog Bodies - Face to Face with the Past Bog Bodies - Face to Face with the Past

In this talk, Dr Melanie Giles shared the latest thinking about the phenomenon of bog bodies.

Journeys - Of people, objects, ideas and the dead, in Britain and Ireland, 4300-1500 Journeys - Of people, objects, ideas and the dead, in Britain and Ireland, 4300-1500

In this talk, Dr Alison Sheridan looked at what was moving into, out of, and around Britain and Ireland between 4300 BC and 1500 BC, how, and why.

Excavating the map? Landscape archaeologies of the Ordnance Survey Excavating the map? Landscape archaeologies of the Ordnance Survey

In this lecture, Professor Keith Lilley talked to us about landscapes and the associated field-monuments that played a vital role in mapping our nations. 

What drives national identity? An online talk with Mike Pitts What drives national identity? An online talk with Mike Pitts

Journeys have become a huge topic in British archaeology and how we imagine our islands’ long history. In this talk, Mike Pitts looks at what happened in the past and how that affects our concepts of national identity?

This event was part of the CBA's 2022 Festival of Archaeology.  

The Made in Migration Collective: A collaborative archaeology of contemporary forced displacement in Europe The Made in Migration Collective: A collaborative archaeology of contemporary forced displacement in Europe

The Made in Migration Collective is a fluid group of displaced and non-displaced individuals originally from eight different countries. Rachael Kiddey and the Made in Migration Collective will share how they use established archaeological and cultural heritage methods to co-document personal belongings and places significant to lived experiences of contemporary forced displacement in Europe. 

This event was part of the CBA's 2022 Festival of Archaeology.

Cuilcagh to Cleenish: Unlocking rural heritage for positive community development Cuilcagh to Cleenish: Unlocking rural heritage for positive community development

Heritage activities can have social implications for communities and are as much about building growth and confidence as they are about uncovering the past. Learn more about community development with Barney Devine. 

The Scottish Crannog Centre 2018-2022 The Scottish Crannog Centre 2018-2022

Join Rachel Backshall and Rich Hiden of the Scottish Crannog Centre and hear the story of an organisation going through transition facing Covid pandemic-devastating fires, frogs and locusts. 

Roman Britain's Pirate King A talk by Dr Simon Elliott, archaeologist, author and CBA Trustee, on this great untold story of British history. Roman Britain's Pirate King A talk by Dr Simon Elliott, archaeologist, author and CBA Trustee, on this great untold story of British history.

A talk by Dr Simon Elliott, archaeologist, author and CBA Trustee, on this great untold story of British history. 

The Treasonous Sands – fiction and fatality in the narratives of Robert Erskine Childers and Mary Spring Rice The Treasonous Sands – fiction and fatality in the narratives of Robert Erskine Childers and Mary Spring Rice

Join artist Mhairi Sutherland for an exploration of the work of Erskine Childers and Mary Spring Rice.  Drawing on travels to the German East Friesian Islands, archive material and historical narratives Mhairi's work explores Irish-British cultural identities and the context and impact of Childers The Riddle of the Sands and Spring Rice's logbook written whilst aboard the Asgard in 1914. 

2023 Beatrice De Cardi lecture - The Art of Archaeology with Dr Rose Ferraby 2023 Beatrice De Cardi lecture - The Art of Archaeology with Dr Rose Ferraby

Delivered as part of the CBA's 2023 AGM, this year's Beatrice De Cardi lecture was presented by Dr Rose Ferraby! It explores the relationship between art and archaeology, investigates the role of art among past societies and considers how, through the stories it evokes, art can reveal new perspectives and enhance our archaeological understanding of the past.

Breaking Boundaries and Building a Future for Archaeology: Current Research from Early Career Archaeologists Breaking Boundaries and Building a Future for Archaeology: Current Research from Early Career Archaeologists

January’s This Is Archaeology event was all about celebrating the work of early career archaeologists and their work to develop and expand our understanding of the world around us and what it means to be human using archaeological tools.  

This included 3 short talks: 

  • Valuable Visuals: The Roles of Traditional and Digital Imaging in Modern Archaeology by Dr Li Sou 

  • Building Ties Between Archaeology and the Public at Ilorin, Northern Yorubaland, Nigeria: A Nigerian Archaeologist's Perspective by Bolaji Josephine Owoseni 

  • Lessons from the Past: What Can Archaeological Science Teach Us About the History and Future of Farming? By Ayushi Nayak

The talks were followed by a panel discussion chaired by Dr Alex Fitzpatrick.

 

Archaeology, memory & our contested pasts Archaeology, memory & our contested pasts

Focusing on past conflicts in Northern Ireland, Paul’s presentation looked at how archaeology, memory and intangible heritage can play an important role to help underpin a more plural and democratic society.

Dead Isle: Endangered heritage Ecologies Dead Isle: Endangered heritage Ecologies

This talk is about a new project that brings together archaeology, art and ecology. It focused on why these connections are important, and why they are of value to local communities.

In 1871 Alfred Nobel started building a dynamite factory on the Ardeer Peninsula in North Ayrshire, Scotland, for the manufacture of black powder, safety fuse, and detonators. From the 1940s onwards, munitionettes worked there and they graffitied lyrics on the walls of their workspace, of old and new songs, whilst they were cutting cordite paste. The sand mounds that surround the huts now support nesting songbirds. Alex Boyd, Iain Hamlin and Lesley McFayden are negotiating new ways in which to deal with a situation where the built environment is decaying whilst ecological habitats thrive, and yet there is the constant possibility of further development that would put all of this at risk. How do we value the human and the non-human in such a landscape? How are we creating a new kind of account of memory and place? 

Footmarks: A Journey into our Restless Past Footmarks: A Journey into our Restless Past

Can we ever know what it was like to move in the past; to understand its meanings and complexities? Unlike many other disciplines; ones that can observe and interview the moving subject, archaeology has only the silent witness. This silence, though, is not to be misconstrued with stillness, and the evidence for past mobilities surrounds us. Focusing on mobility provides a dynamic approach to archaeology, and in this presentation, I will discuss some of the evidence for mobility within the archaeological record and explore ways in which archaeology can engage better with it. I will address what mobility can contribute to the understanding and interpretation of past landscapes and move away from archaeology’s traditional focus upon place and location.

 ‘We dig Caerau!’ Cardiff’s Hidden Hillfort and the power of community archaeology  ‘We dig Caerau!’ Cardiff’s Hidden Hillfort and the power of community archaeology

Our lecture will explore the significance of co-producing archaeological and historical research in close partnership with communities, and consider the ways in which valuing local heritage and the collective discovery of the past has the power to create new and positive life-changing opportunities for all involved.  

To illustrate this, we will talk about the CAER Heritage Project from its humble beginnings to becoming an award-winning, flagship civic mission and development project for both Cardiff University and community development partners Action in Caerau and Ely (ACE). It is essential that we recognise that Universities are an integral part of their communities and that they have an immense responsibility to fulfil their social and civic mission. Our lecture will highlight the how power of archaeology, the power of community, and the power of co-production means that when we come together then we can harness the potential of heritage and create new pasts and new futures. 

 

Traces from the other end of time: imaginary futures and the prehistoric past Traces from the other end of time: imaginary futures and the prehistoric past

How we write about the archaeological past, especially prehistory, is not something we often consider in any depth, although in an age when we are rightly concerned to demonstrate the public value of archaeology it certainly deserves our attention. Archaeology is a form of story-telling but what kind of stories could and should we be writing about the deeper past?

According to JG Ballard, science fiction was ‘the most authentic literature of the twentieth century’, which seems apt for a time both obsessed with and anxious about technological progress. At first glance, therefore, it seems like the most modernist of genres. What could it possibly have in common with prehistoric archaeology? Yet I would like to suggest there are points of contact between the different ends of the time continuum - prehistorians constructing narratives from material evidence of a distant past and sf writers imagining how future societies in galaxies far, far away might respond to particular ecologies or technologies.

In this presentation, I will try and explore the relationship between ‘world-building’ in science fiction and prehistory. I begin with that quintessential pioneer, HG Wells, who wrote not only The Time Machine and other speculative futures but also global histories and tales of the remote past. However, we need not limit ourselves to those authors who have also shown an interest in the past. Taking inspiration from Fredric Jameson’s provocatively titled Archaeologies of the Future, about the Utopian aspect of science fiction, we could ask whether, in either prehistory or sci-fi, we are doing much more than writing about ourselves.  Nevertheless, I suggest a study of the tropes, styles and settings of science
fiction can provide interesting and, hopefully, entertaining insights into how we might represent people of the past who were both like us and not like us, and why such reflections matter.
 

This event was part of the CBA's 2023 Festival of Archaeology.

Nina Frances Layard and queering archaeology. Nina Frances Layard and queering archaeology.

In this lecture, Subha will explore the archaeological writings of Nina Frances Layard published in the East Anglian Daily Times from 1890 onward and demonstrate the ways in which Layard integrates queer approaches in her archaeological work. Throughout her life, Layard often travelled and excavated with her partner, Mary Outram and displayed gestures of queerness in her archaeological practices. In highlighting accounts of their shared experiences of excavating in various sites, Subha will also show how Layard’s writings emphasise the experiences of excavating and bring into focus the experiences of those people whose lives she excavates. These approaches are also reflected in how Layard demonstrates more intimate relations with the objects she excavated. Paying attention to the different discursive strategies Layard participated in allows us to decentre narratives of popular, imperial excavations, often led by middle class-men which dominated newspapers and periodicals from the mid-nineteenth century onwards.

This event was part of the CBA's 2023 Festival of Archaeology

Uist Unearthed – Bringing communities and archaeological landscapes together through augmented reality Uist Unearthed – Bringing communities and archaeological landscapes together through augmented reality

The Uist Virtual Archaeology Project (UVAP) was established in 2020 as a pilot project with the aim of demonstrating the viability of place-based digital approaches to archaeological visitor interpretation in the Hebrides. The challenge was to find methods for engaging our local communities and the wider public in well-researched but hidden archaeological heritage that sits within fragile and sensitive landscapes. Further challenges were established by our desire to work with our local communities, to embed Gaelic in the research and presentation of archaeological material and to create outputs that support sustainable tourism with both economic and social benefits for our islands.

The digital approach we developed in response to these challenges combines location-triggered augmented reality visualisations of archaeological sites alongside multi-media interpretations of archaeological information. Our project outputs comprise the Uist Unearthed app, a cross-platform mobile phone app, and a travelling multi-media exhibition.

In this talk, the UVAP team will reflect on some of the challenges and opportunities associated with developing location-based augmented reality experiences for archaeological sites on the Hebridean islands of North and South Uist. We will also explain some of the thinking and decisions behind the development and use of various multi-media assets, how we agreed on digital content with project partners and stakeholders and how our digital approach evolved throughout the process. We will discuss the value of working with our local communities to coproduce material and explain why this has been so vital for creating engaging experiences that successfully connect people with Uist’s archaeological landscapes.

Broken pots, mending lives - Archaeology as recovery for the military Broken pots, mending lives - Archaeology as recovery for the military

Operation Nightingale began in 2011 and hundreds of service personnel and veterans have now moved through its ranks using archaeology to improve their situation. This work is supported by Breaking Ground Heritage and the speakers will examine some of the sites excavated, the discoveries made, and how archaeology can help the living.

Warrior Treasure: The Staffordshire Hoard in Anglo-Saxon England Warrior Treasure: The Staffordshire Hoard in Anglo-Saxon England

When the Staffordshire Hoard was discovered in 2009, it caused an international sensation. Nearly 6 kilos of gold and silver objects, many decorated with blood-red garnets, make it the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon precious metal ever discovered, and unparalleled in scale and type. In this talk, Dr Jenni Butterworth tells the remarkable story of its discovery and the large-scale research project which followed.

The CBA at 80 - Reflecting on our past and our role today The CBA at 80 - Reflecting on our past and our role today

The past 80 years have seen considerable shifts in archaeology, heritage, and the management of the Historic Environment. Archaeology and the concept of heritage have grown and evolved, commercial archaeology has blossomed, and community archaeology has benefitted from substantial resources from the National Lottery. The internet and digital platforms now offer incredible reach and scope to further reimagine how we engage people and participants.

To mark the CBA’s 80th Anniversary Year our Executive Director Neil Redfern, will kick off our ‘This is Archaeology Lecture’ series for 2024 with a talk reflecting on our past, exploring the role of the CBA and grassroots archaeology today.