The Council for British Archaeology is an educational charity working throughout the UK to champion archaeology and to help people experience and participate in archaeology. As the voice of archaeology in the UK, we bring together community groups, commercial units, academics and heritage organisations to create and share opportunities to discover, take part in and be inspired by archaeology.
The CBA is a membership organisation, bringing together institutions and individuals to create a unique forum for the British archaeological community. The organisation works across the UK, alongside twelve CBA Groups in Wales and England and through our sister organisation Archaeology Scotland, along with branches of the Young Archaeologists’ Club. The CBA publishes British Archaeology magazine, an award-winning bi-monthly publication focusing on archaeological endeavours around the UK.
The CBA is a charity registered in England and Wales (no 287815) and in Scotland (no SC041971). It is also a Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England No. 1760254.
Our Five Core Activities
Our core work is focused on five activity areas which support our membership, deliver our events and projects, underpin our statutory role as a National Amenity Society, support our publications and deliver our youth engagement programmes.
The CBA has approximately 3,500 members and c.270 organisational members (affiliates). We support 11 CBA groups who co-ordinate and deliver activities and support in their geographic areas.
CBA members: CBA membership is open to anyone with an interest in archaeology. Each member receives a copy of the CBA’s British Archaeology magazine and many attend regular events. Key to our growth is to strengthen and deepen our relationship with members by providing more added-value services of interest to existing members and services that will attract new members from all sections of society.
CBA groups: We support 11 CBA groups in England and Wales, and we work with partner groups in Scotland and Northern Ireland. We support them to provide local information and advice, promote and deliver opportunities for participation, undertake regional research and safeguard heritage.
CBA affiliates: Affiliate members include organisations such as local archaeology societies and other community- based bodies interested in archaeology and heritage. The CBA provides support, guidance, and access to the archaeological community and events.
The CBA co-ordinates and supports an annual Festival of Archaeology. This national event comprises events, talks, digs, and activities designed to appeal to a broad range of people, including those new to archaeology. It celebrated its 31st year in 2021. It is usually a series of events held online and on the ground over a two-week period. In 2021, a total of 505 unique events were delivered by organisers across the UK and the digital reach of the Festival was over 70 million. Our aspiration is to develop CBA’s Festival experience into an annual programme of archaeological events throughout the year.
The Archaeological Achievement Awards, coordinated by the CBA, were relaunched in 2021 to great success. The awards aim to celebrate archaeology across the UK and Republic of Ireland. Likewise, the Marsh Community Archaeology Awards are held each year and celebrate community and youth projects as well as the Community Archaeologist and Young Archaeologist of the Year.
Casework and advocacy
The CBA is one of seven National Amenity Societies whose expertise and role is recognized in statute. Collectively we come together as the Joint Committee of the National Amenity Societies (JCNAS) and act as a key advocacy voice for the historic environment and for heritage. The CBA’s casework team handle over 5,800 listed building applications across England and Wales each year. We use a network of volunteers from a variety of backgrounds to help advise on the impact and suitability of listed building application and development proposals according to legislation, policy, and guidance for safeguarding the historic environment within the planning system.
Through managing the JCNAS database Casework Hub, the CBA allocates and records statutory casework on behalf of the JCNAS, creating and maintaining the publicly accessible records for the seven JCNAS member organisations.
Find out more about the work of our buildings archaeology casework team here.
Publications and Communications
The CBA publishes British Archaeology, the foremost archaeological magazine in the UK. It brings in-depth news and research on archaeology to a wide audience. It is published six times each year and forms part of the CBA membership offer. It has a circulation of c.7,000 including overseas and subscription circulation.
We also publish specialist books and papers containing important archaeological insights which would otherwise not be published due to their specialised nature and limited print runs. British Archaeology remains our flagship publication and will continue to play an important part in our mission of supporting people to value diverse heritage.
CBA Youth Engagement
The CBA’s Young Archaeologists’ Clubs (YAC) make up the CBA’s flagship youth engagement project working with children and young people aged 8-16. The clubs, of which there are over 75, lie at the heart of our work to support youth engagement and early career archaeology. Led by over 500 volunteers and attended by more than 2,000 young people, our YAC groups engage young people with the heritage of their local area through hands-on activities.
Wider youth engagement is, however, central to CBA’s future strategy. Our aspirations are to support young people of all backgrounds and abilities to engage in archaeology to better understand the places where they live in an ambitious programme of youth engagement, collaboration, volunteering, and partnership.
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland
In addition to these core activities, we deliver a focused and bespoke approach to working with the UK’s devolved nations.
In Scotland, we work in partnership with our sister organisation Archaeology Scotland, supporting their leading role in promoting Scottish archaeology.
In Wales, we operated through a member of staff who was based in the principality and worked to align and coordinate our activities with key partners, stakeholders and community groups. This post became vacant in October 2021 and we have since reviewed our activity in Wales to better align it to the delivery of our core programmes.
In Northern Ireland, we promote archaeology through the co-development of projects and activities with the Northern Ireland Archaeology Forum and the Historic Environment Stakeholder Forum.
Across all devolved nations, we collaborate on delivering the Festival of Archaeology and the Young Archaeologists’ Clubs to provide direct opportunities to engage with the CBA’s work. In 2021 we established a new Wales Online YAC group initially funded by Cadw for the first six months and currently managed by the CBA, supported by Welsh YAC leaders. In early 2022 we also secured funding from Historic Environment Scotland to set up a Scotland Online Club in partnership with Archaeology Scotland. Both clubs were created to reach more young people, particularly those who have been unable to participate in in-person activities due to issues such as rurality, travel costs etc. During 2020-21, we also developed a new approach to the British Archaeological Awards. They were widened to include the Republic of Ireland and renamed the Archaeological Achievement Awards. They were held for the first time in December 2021 in Scotland and brought together organisations in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, England and the Republic of Ireland in a new form of joint working.