forget the public!
Your article on the
APPAG report (Digger 27) was very informative. I was pleased
to see the comments on community involvement in archaeology.
Professionals would be unwise to dismiss public enthusiasm for
The report states
that: ‘The Government’s priorities are expressed
in terms of broadening access to and developing the educational
potential of the cultural sector. These aims, while worthy in
themselves, force Government-funded bodies with responsibilities
for archaeology to divert attention away from what should be
their core aims, to identify, protect and sustain the historic
environment, towards these other goals. ... Without the preservation
of this fundamental resource, there will be nothing left to
provide access to or to educate people about.’ (p 6).
I think that we would
all agree with that. But without the support of the public for
archaeology as a community service which helps to give a sense
of place and personal and community identity, there is no pressure
for local and national government to give a damn when it comes
to axing public services. It should not be an ‘either/or’
question. What is the point of digging all this stuff up if
it is not shared with the community whose heritage it is? We
must not allow lack of funds to force us to make a choice between
the resource and the involvement of the community.
(and I am one) and administrators should look to the future
of community participation in archaeology; this will lead to
the survival of their jobs in the long term. Public involvement
should be at the heart of the job not the periphery. It will
never be so whilst competitive tendering exists and this is
why all archaeologists should be concerned with the restructuring
of the profession.
- Chris Tripp
BAJR’s view of APPAG
Over the past 3 years
of running BAJR, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly
reality of archaeology in the UK. Poor pay, poor working practice
and our fragmented, disorganised and toothless ‘profession’.
Whether as a digger in the field or a specialist in a museum
we have all seen heritage becoming more popular while funding
is cut and jobs lost! The APPAG report is just what is needed;
I agree with 95% of it. However, there are points that I am
on watching briefs and evaluations. Not so much a problem of
them working with us, rather them working instead of us. The
whole point of our work is to involve and inform the public,
not to shut them out from our secret world. Free watching briefs
may sound enticing to developers, but where is the experience
of an archaeologist who does this for a living, not to mention
problems of public liability. Money should be made available
for professionals to work with local groups, this not only creates
a bridge between us, but allows the concept of research excavations/surveys
to actually exist.
Franchises? Get real!
It is unclear whether a single company will receive a 5 year
franchise for a region or not. If so, many of us will be out
on our ear. There are small consultancies that work well in
an area, so there is no reason to squeeze them out. Pay rates
vary greatly now, and there is a (rather fuzzy) realisation
that pay and conditions must go up, however has anyone noticed
that small companies with less overheads often pay more? I would
like to see a system combining the Irish version of the Licensed
Archaeologist and a multi-franchise system. With these in place,
the policing of archaeology becomes much simpler. If an archaeologist
or unit fails to meets recognised standards in the course of
the 5 year period, then they are banned from that area for 5
years until they can prove the standards have improved: harsh
but damned fair!
This is the only way to go, though the suggestion that the IFA,
CBA etc merge is bizarre. A fresh new organisation is needed,
started from scratch. I see no problem in using the IFA as a
template as it is the largest organisation in UK archaeology
(though with only c. 25% of the heritage workers involved, it
is not exactly fully representative).
I fully agree with
the polluter pays policy of a tax levy on developers depending
on the size of the company. Balfour Beatty can afford to place
£large amounts£ into a general kitty, while Tiny
Builders Ltd need only pay £small amounts£. This
is as fair for the developer as it means if Tiny Builder Ltd
finds a Saxon Graveyard in the area of a house extension they
are not forced to close down the project because they cannot
afford to pay for the archaeology.
People should read
the report (or the synopsis), understand the consequences and
react. Burying your head and hoping it all passes by is to ignore
the change that is coming. I want to be seen as the professional
that I am. This report has begun that. But not all that glistens
in this report is gold, some of it is pure s**t
But at least it is a start.
- David Connolly.