Tag Archives: UK

OPEN ARCHIVE – a new web based system for accessing our past

OPEN ARCHIVE – a new web based system for accessing our past

The wealth of information gathered by local archaeological groups and societies on excavations, surveys and documentary research is one of the important sources of data for the study of archaeology in the UK.  Currently, this archive of British archaeology is stored locally, within libraries and local history centres as well as with the originating group themselves.  In addition, PhDs and other research can be found in locations often scattered throughout the country.  The premise of Open Archive is to collect the records of the past and present and share them with everybody.

Open Archive is an accessible library of user generated reports and publications where archaeology societies, PhD research students, graveyard recording and community groups can share their discoveries with a wide audience.

The easy to use interface combines intuitive searches by period, type of project and location with a map based view showing the location of the selected documents.  Each item can then be viewed as either a short description or as the complete publication.  This resource creates a public portal to the records of our shared heritage that were previously only available on a few local archaeology group websites OR as paper copies in the local library.  The idea is to allow this to be both interactive and open to sharing via feeds and direct data transfer.

The data entry form is modelled exactly on the Discovery and Excavation Scotland (DES) fields, and has the potential to allow direct transfer of this data to the record.  (For future projects this would mean every record sent to Open Archive that is located in Scotland could be automatically be sent to the DES along with a copy of the report.)  In addition, we are working on automatically sending Treasure Trove reporting, Open Archive is developing for the future and your comments are welcome.

Loading the pdf versions of the document onto Open Archive is a quick step by step process, maintaining ease of use without compromising the value of the information gathered.  The more users that utilise this secure public archive, the more useful it becomes, building a written record of the past in Britain by those that know it best.

Free to register and use, we are currently in consultation to help take paper records and transform them into searchable digital formats, where the rediscovery of these publications may even re-ignite interest in the area.

Open Archive is exactly that – a public resource, created for everyone.

You can view the current Version here http://www.openarchive.co.uk

and we welcome comment info@digitalpast.co.uk

David Connolly and Steve White (Digital Past)

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UK Heritage Bill dropped AGAIN!

In December the Architects website reported the dropping of the Heritage Bill

http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=3129091

Cross party condemnation as Heritage Protection Bill dropped

3 December, 2008         By Will Henley

MPs from all three main parties have criticised the government’s axing of the Heritage Protection Bill from next year’s parliamentary programme, amid claims historic buildings are being put at risk.

The dropping of the bill from today’s Queen’s Speech – ostensibly due to the prioritising of legislation to tackle the credit crunch and first predicted in BD last month – is a huge blow for English Heritage, which had hoped to take over responsibility for listing designations from the department of culture, media and sport.

The news also comes as leading policy thinktank Demos released a report warning that Britain would become a “cultural desert” if cuts to the conservation sector continued.

English Heritage described the axing of the bill as “disappointing, but understandable” in the economic climate but observers predicted the legislation could now take years to be realised – if at all.

EH chief executive Simon Thurley is expected to attend a summit with heritage groups next week to discuss what can be salvaged from the draft bill.

Key measures which require legislative approval include protection for buildings being considered for listing and the creation of a single register of listed assets.

“English Heritage is putting on a brave face,” said Victorian Society director Ian Dungavell. “They have been working so hard on it for years and years but have had the rug pulled from under their feet.”…….  read more http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=3129091

Now it is July (the bill was supposed to be ready for June!) and this is the news.  from teh CBA website

There is deep disappointment again that the Heritage Protection Bill for England and Wales does not appear in the Draft Legislative Programme for 2009/10 announced by the Government this week.

The Programme indicates the legislation likely to be included in the Queen’s Speech for the next parliamentary session. Clearly there is now little expectation of the legislative reforms which the 2007 White Paper promised would place the historic environment at the heart of the planning system. The Bill aimed to simplify and strengthen existing legislation and introduce opportunities for people to be more involved in protecting and enhancing their local heritage. It also paved the way for the signing and ratification of the Hague Convention, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. Without the Bill, the UK will soon be the only international power not to have signed the convention.

Mike Heyworth, CBA’s Director said:

The lack of Government commitment to these uncontroversial and widely supported reforms is deplorable. The Council for British Archaeology will be responding to the publication of the Draft Legislative Programme in the strongest terms. We will be working with the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group to progress the most badly needed reforms, some of which are possible through secondary legislation, and to press Government to deliver on other objectives for the heritage. Our historic environment fundamentally shapes the quality of our surroundings and is integral to policies for sustainability. It must be at the heart of new policies for the way places are designed and planned, not side-lined as a low priority.

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BAJR Federation – Draft 2

Taking into consideration the comments and suggestions made both on and off the BAJR Forum and elsewhere, the following is a revision of the membership, aims and organisation of what will become the

BAJR Federation

Membership:

Member:
The sole trader/ small company (5 or less); Freelancers; Specialists (the surveyor, ceramicist, geophysicist, finds specialist etc.); Short term contract employees; and individual or small group who is active within what can broadly be termed archaeology within the UK.
Student:
Those in full time or part time education related to any aspect of archaeology.
Affiliate:
A person who is either not directly involved in archaeology or is involved in archaeology but is out-with the United Kingdom, and so not directly affected by issues within the confines on the United Kingdom.
Group Affiliation:
Existing groups within the profession, such as the Diggers Forum, the British Women Archaeologists, the AAIS etc.. would be invited as group affiliates, and information exchange formalised, to inform of issues and initiatives both to and from the BAJR Federation.

The process of communication with the current bodies would be decided – to ensure that again, information and methods of approach could be understood by all parties.

The thrust of the Federation would be in three parallel directions.

1. An information gathering and dissemination service to provide advice and notification of new and current issues, regarding the various membership groups
2. A lobbying organisation on matters put forward by Federation members, with voting on a collective response; providing a collective response to consultations.
3. A voice to actively interact with current groups that is representative of a majority rather than as an individual.

Each of these seven categories would put forward a member to the Council yearly to represent the concerns of each group.

Issues, information and self help could be addressed by each group and disseminated.

For example, for sole traders help in running your own business; for freelancers, requirements for insurance; for specialists, new research in various fields; for students, details on requirements and expectations in the different facets of archaeology; the short term contract workers, having a voice with which to ensure the union represented them robustly and a collective voice to speak for the individual.

Skills and training would be paramount to the federation and therefore connection to and working with the pre-existing organisations would be complementary and not conflicting.

Membership of the federation will be (at least initially) free and rely on recognition that an independent organisation is needed.

Over the past ten years BAJR (as an individual) has established a reputation for honesty and trust and there is no reason why BAJR Federation(as an separate but affiliated organisation) cannot continue with the same stance, no longer a single voice but many voices speaking as one.
It is essential that this is not seen as a replacement for any of the existing organisations and is not seen as a Union, but a federation of like minded and dedicated professionals who wish to see that the standards and future of archaeology are ensured. T

Voting would be the main responsibility of members.. with first a discussion on the nature of the question and answers and then a system of voting that is inclusive (both web based and SMS) ensuring those who have limited access to the internet have the ability to have their say. A majority vote would be required to actively move forward on an issue. Non-voting over a protracted period could lead to a loss of voting rights. (with certain safeguards against those unable to be involved for legitimate reasons– perhaps a three strikes rule?)

A Bi-monthly Newsletter would inform members of activities.. available as a pdf download.. (thoughts on paper copies would have to be addressed) – The main concept is to keep people informed, to communicate, to support and to lobby.

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Heritage Protection Bill – problem?

“New priorities have emerged with the turbulence in the financial markets,” Burnham said. “But I can make sure that we maintain the momentum behind the reform whether or not the bill is part of the legislative programme in the next session of parliament.”

This is part of a longer post from here:

http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=725&storycode=3126700&c=2  

BAJR has been openly discussing this problem.. (or not a problem?)

http://www.bajr.org/BAJRforum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=1903&whichpage=1

It is worth noting that comments on BAJR about a recent IFA meeting at which Peter Hinton and Charles Wagner spoke on the new Bill, the details on the content proved very hard to come by, as the government seems to be restricting access until a new draft is published – probably in early December.

Now we have this from Hansard on the 10th Nov.

“Mr. Jeremy Hunt (South-West Surrey) (Con): Will the Secretary of State confirm rumours that the heritage protection Bill has been dropped from the Queen’s Speech? If that is the case, is that not the final nail in the coffin for the Government’s heritage policies? We have seen lottery money plundered, the Government telling churches to turn themselves into cafés and gyms and now the denial of the vital parliamentary time that would allow the heritage sector better to look after the heritage that belongs to us all. When can we have a positive vision for our heritage sector? Is it condemned to yet more years of neglect and decline?

Andy Burnham: I do not accept the hon. Gentleman’s criticism. In the recent spending round, English Heritage received an increase in funding. We have worked with all parties in the heritage sector to introduce the first heritage protection Bill for 30 years. That is clear evidence of the Government’s commitment to the sector. The hon. Gentleman knows that I cannot comment on the Queen’s Speech in advance of its publication. However, he will know that the Planning Bill will require us to bring forward a new planning policy statement on the built heritage, replacing planning policy guidance 15 and 16. We will do so shortly, and we will issue that statement for consultation. We recognise the importance of the built heritage and we are taking active steps to protect it.”

Of course the Bill may make the Queens Speech in the end? cross fingers? But I ain’t putting money on it yet, we suggest you write to your MP – I have written to mine – Anne Moffat.. who wrote back within 3 hours.. (good representative that!)

REPLY

Dear David,

Many thanks for correspondence sent to my constituency office. I am sorry I am a bit slow in responding but I welcomed your letter and support the sentiments expressed within. I have sent a copy of your letter to the minister and confirm that I will try to raise the matter with him also at the next scheduled departmental questions in the House of Commons. I can assure you of my continued support in these matters.

I trust this is useful.

Yours sincerely
Anne Moffat MP

 So hope…  pray..  and wait

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OS mapping system – Online API

OpenSpaceOrdnance Survey’s OpenSpace – their slippy mapping API has launched!   The API is OpenLayers based, with additional goodies such as gazetteer search and a “momentum” drag-and-let-go effect on the map.

However, the gazetteer doesn’t do postcodes! Also, it is in OSGB coordinates, so there is also some helper functions for translating to and from lat lon. However, this basic client side conversion can lead to errors, apparently, and in some places they can be out by tens of metres. The OS developers said that if users think that a server side conversion is better, then that could be accommodated.

 Have a look at this demo…  and see what you think as the layers available are:

 There is a range of Ordnance Survey digital products that are displayed at each zoom level:

outline of Great Britain (zoom level 1);
overview of Great Britain (zoom level 2-3);
MiniScale® (zoom level 4-5);
1:250 000 Scale Colour Raster (zoom level 6-7);
1:50 000 Scale Colour Raster (zoom level 8-9); and
OS Street View® (zoom level 10-11).

http://www.free-map.org.uk/openspace/

 and try

http://www.geothings.net/openspace/index.html

Of course it only deals with the UK… (well it is the OSGB!!)     but think about what is possible for UK archaeology companies?  and local groups…

 Of course there is the usual bugbear of pricing, and yes teh OS have managed to over complicate it again!   They are always seen as the bad guys and still are a deep shade of grey…  but at least they are trying, and the maps are what we have come to expect (no not 10 meteres out!!)  (well  a bit)  Have a look….  chew it over…  what do you think??

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