Community Archaeology – Healthy Scene or Deathbed Gasp?

Current Archaeology   The latest Current Archaeology has an opinion on Community Archaeology which is pretty damning … however BAJR quite agrees with most of it… though I did smart as I am currently working on 2 (organising one!) and am getting into training and other advice… including making templates for “How to…. ” get money OR find tools OR carry out a survey etc…… where are the resources…. etc

But its funny…. I gave a donation to a society (and it turned out my donation was the largest they had that year … even HS gave them less! So how can the clubs survive, when there is little support…

Where are the FLOs for Digs? In Scotland we have the wonderful Helen Bradley, Adopt-a-Monument Officer from the CSA who has to cover the WHOLE of Scotland – but brings valuable help to groups…

http://www.scottisharchaeology.org.uk/projects/adopt.html

Why not 5 or 10 of her? Why not more archaeology in the classroom? what about building communities with archaeology/heritage/natural resources… actually use archaeology for something positive?

Not just to mitigate for a development, but to be part of a community soul?

Last weekend, we field walked, washed, recorded, geofizzed, dug and researched… over 70 people turned up.. and more are coming for the Easter Big Dig… many are coming over the winter to learn survey and dig and draw etc etc….. new skills ! An they love it… absolutely love it!

And so do I….

I looked at the CBAs Community Archaeology Forum – a great idea… however..

http://www.britarch.ac.uk/communityarchaeology/wikka.php?wakka=HomePage

The Latest News is October (2 months ago…)

There are only 13 projects

Two finished in 2005, one was last updated in January 2006, many pages don’t work some are quite good indeed… however… you find there is only 10 actual groups involved… and spread across 2 years and the whole of the UK it is a bit …. Er…. Small?

I started a list of Groups across the UK… but felt I did not want to get in the way of the CBA site.. but I can tell you.. I could collect around 2-3000 groups! Some only 5 people others with hundreds!

So we have the desire… we have the people, we have the potential …. But where is the support… the cash? The templates? The resources?

Oooooooooo eck…. Can I feel a BAJR Crusade… have I found a new direction??There are people ot there doing lots of work, there are projects going on…  but how to find them, how to finance them and how to start them?  

 The intake of British archaeology students is down…  the chances to learn before is vague..  Mention it and people say…  ” oh..  theres lots going on”…  So I say where?   When, who can get involved…

Sarah McLean had the best idea with UK Archaeology Opportunities..  sadly the site was hijacked so don’t go there!  She has indeed been in touch and given me some useful pointers… 

Past Horizons is trying to fill the gap…  but people have to know its there..  it has to be publicised and beyond that…  people have to step forward and say…  This is going on here…!

The article leaves a lot (and I mean a LOT) to be desired in checking facts… however .. being the glass half empty person who wants to find out how to make it full… I stand by several points that are made.. albeit clumsily…

And rather than attacking County Archaeologists it should look to the real causes.. the lack of funding for HERs, the reliance on goodwill to get projects going, the lack of information available to simply explain to a group, WHO to talk to, HOW to carry out work, WHERE to get funding WHO will help, HOW to report.. etc etc…..

Let’s get it moving…
 
Read the Current Archaeology … give us an honest view…. Shooting for the stars?… or p##sin in the wind?

Go beyond the initial reaction and look at the reality… 

2 Comments

Filed under BAJR Talk

2 responses to “Community Archaeology – Healthy Scene or Deathbed Gasp?

  1. Hi David,

    I looked at the CBAs Community Archaeology Forum – a great idea… however..

    http://www.britarch.ac.uk/communityarchaeology/wikka.php?wakka=HomePage

    The Latest News is October (2 months ago…)

    There are only 13 projects

    Two finished in 2005, one was last updated in January 2006, many pages don’t work some are quite good indeed… however… you find there is only 10 actual groups involved… and spread across 2 years and the whole of the UK it is a bit …. Er…. Small?

    The idea behind the Community Archaeology Forum is that it’s a wiki. It doesn’t have a top-down approach, rather users and projects are encouraged to share their own ideas, results, experiences etc, and to create and edit their own pages. We provide the framework and webspace, plus advice and guidance, but ultimately the content of the site is down to the users.

    I started a list of Groups across the UK… but felt I did not want to get in the way of the CBA site.. but I can tell you.. I could collect around 2-3000 groups! Some only 5 people others with hundreds!

    We have a similarly large compiled list of community groups in the UK – but we can’t force them all to use CAF! 😉 The forum is still quite young, and the current lack of projects is a reflection of this. The solution is to encourage people to get stuck in – to create pages for their projects, share their experiences, ask questions, post their comments, results, photos etc. The resources are there, but they’re not yet being used to their full potential.

  2. bajrblog

    Thanks marcus… I think you bring out a serious issue here, where you can provide resources.. but that does not mean the groups will use the resource or ‘force’ them to use CAF.

    The questions which you raise are the crux… how to get people to share experieinces.. how to get people to create pages.. even if it is just a link back to their own webpages…

    Independance is one thing.. but having a central resource for all is another… in a way, the chicken and egg issue…

    We must consider this seriously in terms of how to bring this together and have the resources by which people
    a) know the resources exist
    b) use the resources
    c) don’t try and tell people what to do (or else)
    d) encourage projects in a way that does not lead to ‘bad’ archaeology
    e) allow interested people access to current projects across the UK… we know they are happening.. its just finding them.

    I often get emails asking how or where to get involved.. as it can be hard to find the info unless you already know the info exists..

    Thoughts?

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