The archaeological resource in context: national approaches in a changing climate

Posted on October 19, 2016


It’s Wednesday’s videoed conference session:

The last twelve months have seen a relative strengthening of demand for archaeological work in the commercial sector, but the situation for archaeological institutions and individuals in the public and non-commercial sectors remains challenging. This session seeks to consider how non-commercial work can continue to support protection, understanding and contextualisation of the archaeological resource in all its forms, whilst also promoting its importance to the widest audience. It will showcase collaborations and developing practices across the archaeological profession that contextualise the archaeological resource, whether through informing protection and development, providing guidance or professional resources, framing research priorities, or undertaking synthetic studies, and will emphasise the value and innovation of recent contributions made by the public sector. Presentations will reflect the various roles of national organisations and the results of working with them, as we seek to affirm and enhance the cultural significance of the archaeological resource in a national context.

Organiser(s): Nicola Hembrey and Hugh Corley, Historic England

No strangers to blue water
Mark Dunkley, Historic England
Public sector maritime archaeology in England, promoted through @HE_maritime, has received a great deal of attention recently; investigations to identify the presence of buried medieval ship remains; the recovery of a seventeenth-century gun carriage, and casework to protect the earliest U-boat in English waters. But who is this work being done for and what’s driving it? This paper will set out the context for Historic England’s maritime archaeological activities and explain the wide portfolio of our work, from geophysical interpretation to oceanic climate change. It will identify our stakeholders and address the range of the resource, discuss strategic priorities and explain some innovative methodologies used for investigation. The paper will also draw on recent work seeking to understand the social and economic benefits of our maritime past.

The importance of partnerships in non-commercial archaeology
Steven Sherlock, Morgan Sindall; Keith Emerick, Historic England; Sgt Diarmaid Walshe VR, RAMC, DAG; Phil Abramson, Defence Infrastructure Organisation
In July 2015 a unique partnership was formed by The Defence Archaeology Group, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Historic England and Carillion – Morgan Sindall JV to run a month-long project EXERCISE MARNE EXPLORE 15, to study, research and excavate the archaeological remains found within the confines of Marne Barracks in Catterick, using military personnel, veterans and the local community supported by professional archaeological oversight.
This paper will look at the lessons learnt in how diverse non-commercial groups can combine with a commercial element to
develop community projects with wide-ranging benefits. It will investigate how different cultures interact, and explore how their ethoses can be combined to produce outstanding archaeological research and results. We will also focus on how best practice in non-commercial archaeology can be strengthened, developed and supported by diverse stakeholders bringing their talents and skills to a non-commercial project.

People, place and time: approaches to the historic environment and HS2

Helen Glass, HS2
The archaeology and heritage works that will be undertaken as part of HS2 presents an unprecedented opportunity to enhance our knowledge of our shared past. Working within the framework of a hybrid Bill regime to deliver the Secretary of State’s commitment to the historic environment, this presentation will outline the different structures, roles and responsibilities that delivering those commitments necessitate. I will set out how we have engaged, discussed, consulted and collaborated across the profession during that development of our strategies, procedures and most notably the research and delivery strategy. In particular I will highlight how we continue to work with Historic England, Local Authority specialists and other groups within the historic environment.

Powering the heritage research cycle – developing ways to improve access to information and synthesis of knowledge

Dan Miles, Historic England and Jo Gilham, Archaeology Data Service
The research cycle is a continuous loop of information generation and knowledge creation which feeds back into our decision
making; whether to assess significance for designation, inform planning decisions or developing new areas of scholarly research. Improving the mechanisms and processes to report historic environment investigations and the synthesis of this to create knowledge are fundamental steps in furthering our understanding and knowledge base of the historic environment.
This presentation will highlight some of the ways that Historic England and its partners are developing systems to improve the research cycle – eg the redevelopment of OASIS (HERALD project). This will improve reporting and create access for different specialist and user groups; create abstracts for the British & Irish Archaeological Bibliography (BIAB) and signpost the outcomes of research to update Research Frameworks. Linked to OASIS is the development of online, collaborative and updatable Research Frameworks providing better access to synthesis and research questions.

Public-funded archaeology in Wales – the past, present and future

Gwilym Hughes, CADW
The collaborative non-commercial work programmes over the last two decades or so between Cadw, the Welsh Archaeological
Trusts (through the grant-aid programme) and the RCAHMW in Wales have included the development and implementation of a number of pan-Wales archaeological and survey projects. Many have been linked to protection and heritage management, but also draw upon Wales’ own archaeological research framework. Many of these projects have provided a strong foundation to provide the required resilience for the current era of austerity as well as to inform and support other public policy initiatives and commercial archaeology. But the constraints on public finances continue to provide significant challenges for the years to come and we will have to consider new ways of achieving our many ambitions.

ScARF: Knitting together the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework
Emma-Jane O’Riordan, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
In 2012, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland launched the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF) project, to encompass the entirety of Scotland’s history. The Society is a small, independent charitable organisation and yet tasked itself with the creation and stewardship of a resource of international importance. ScARF provides up to date research knowledge and priorities that can be used by all archaeologists; commercial, academic and individual. As a not-for-profit project, but one that contains information derived from commercial work, ScARF is well placed to showcase the results of a range of archaeological activity to a wide audience. This paper will reflect on the effort involved in bringing various organisations and individuals together and in trying to give varying ideas a cohesive story. It will also discuss the significant potential of such a resource and how this strength can best be harnessed for the future.

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