There are times
when we’ve all stared out of the tea cabin window and wondered
about digging abroad. But what’s it really like? Recently
we’ve focussed on Ireland and France. Today it’s Holland.
A reader in the Netherlands takes up the story...
Developers in Holland are responsible for funding any digs
that need to be done as a result of their work, although in
very special cases (eg Roman villas etc) the government fronts
up the cash. In my opinion the mostly commercial nature of archaeology
is leading to a fall in
standards in this country. Developers are pushing for faster
and cheaper digs and opting for watching briefs rather than
excavations. This is held in check by the relevant authorities
‘het Ryksdienst voor het Oudheidkundig Bodemonderzoek’
(ROB), and the Kwaliteitsnorm Nederlandse Archeologie (KNA)
has been recently set up to monitor standards. But it isn’t
enough for my liking.
Pay and conditions are much better than in the UK. Although
archaeologists’ pay is still crap compared to other professions,
I do get holiday and sick pay and all my travel expenses. It
varies from company to company but if I have to travel more
that 1½ hours to site I’m entitled to a hotel and
about £15 a day expenses. And of course the cost of living
is much lower over here, particularly beer and tobacco!
Digging strategies in Holland are a bit different from the
UK: I can’t remember the last time I used a trowel! And
if you want to get anywhere you need to try to learn the language.
Everyone speaks English, but companies are reluctant to hire
non-Dutch speakers. I would say if you’re keen enough
go for it! Digging abroad has given me the chance to be employed
in archaeology for the last 6 years solid, and now I’ve
got a permanent contract. I can’t see me having managed
that in the UK.