Past Forward: Celebrating Forty Years of Merseyside Archaeological Society

Posted on January 18, 2017


In October we videod and edited the Past Forward conference. It covered Merseyside (Liverpool, England) and Northern England. Here are those videos but first here is a bit about the conference:

Since the formation of the Society in 1976 much has changed in the state of knowledge of the archaeology of Merseyside. Using a combination of short lectures, workshops, discussion groups and tours, the Conference will review the ways in which archaeology on Merseyside has evolved over the last 40 years. It will look back on the Society’s work with local communities and institutions within and outside Merseyside to advance archaeological research and deliver a series of successful projects. The role of Merseyside Archaeological Society and other local society engagement in research, advocacy and governance in archaeology will also be explored. The Conference will also look forward into the next decade to envisage the challenges and opportunities that await and how the Society might have to adapt in order to build on its past achievements.

Merseyside Archaeological Society has brought together a prominent group of speakers with local, regional and national interests who will describe their experiences of working with the Society and how these successful collaborations might continue over the coming years. Attendees will also have the opportunity to describe any memories of their involvement with the Society and outline their vision for the future of archaeology on Merseyside.

The Old Hutt, Yew Tree Farm and South Castle Street: What those sites taught us and what we’ve learned since Mark Adams, Museum of Liverpool

Merseyside Archaeological Society – a personal view of the last 30 years

Rob Philpott, University of Liverpool & Freelance Archaeological Consultant

A personal view of the last thirty years, looking at the role the Society has played in fieldwork, research and publication within the region. In addition, the Society’s involvement in the growing area of community archaeology and in promoting and preserving the heritage of the region will be briefly discussed.

Making Merseyside: Metropolitan identity to localism in an era of public archaeology
Gill Chitty, University of York
Merseyside Archaeological Society was founded to protect and encourage public interest in the archaeological heritage of the new Merseyside metropolitan authority formed in 1974. As the MAS celebrates its 40th year, this paper constructs a biography of its achievements and evolution, drawn from the records, publications and experiences of the last 40 years. It considers what is formative in the making of a resilient local archaeological group. How does its history reflect broader shifts in public policy and heritage practice, from creating a new metropolitan heritage identity in the 1970s to the present era of public archaeology and community heritage?
Merseyside’s Archaeology in a regional context: a short history of archaeology policies and practice in North West England

Norman Redhead, University of Salford
Taken from a local government archaeologist’s perspective, this talk will chart four decades of changes in the way archaeology has been protected, investigated, promoted and engaged with in the North West of England. It will review our current situation and look forward to key challenges and opportunities.

Getting Involved: Community Archaeology at National Museums Liverpool

Liz Stewart, Museum of Liverpool

The first community archaeology project run by National Museums Liverpool (NML) was trial trenching on the site of 19th century housing at Stanley Bank, St. Helens. This developed into a successful HLF funded project investigating the industrial archaeology of the upper reaches of the Sankey Canal and generated links between NML, St. Helens Council and a diverse range of local groups. Since then NML archaeologists have collaborated on several community led projects and this talk will present a personal overview attempting to examine
what worked well, what sometimes didn’t work quite so well, and will look at some future possibilities.

Summing Up Day One of Past Forward Conference

Keith Dobney

Local Research Frameworks for Local People? Capturing the archaeological research impact of community and local groups

Mike Nevell, University of Salford

This paper will give a brief over-view of the range and volume of community and local archaeological work using the North West as a case study area. It will look at: the impact of local networking and the HLF on archaeological research since 2000; problems of dissemination and access to this new material; and assess the potential of the revised North West Regional Research Framework for the Historic Environment for engaging, capturing and disseminating the impact of the work of local groups.’

Community archaeology and a new direction for researching landscapes

Jamie Quartermaine, Oxford Archaeology North

Landscape archaeology has seen a dramatic change of fortunes over the last five years. For many years our unimproved open landscapes have been examined by management surveys which have entailed systematic walking across uplands and large estates, resulting in large numbers of dots on maps extending over enormous areas. This process has been invaluable for management purposes, allowing for the conservation of an extremely valuable resource, but it has done little to improve our understanding of the archaeology as there has been little or no detailed mapping, analysis or assessment of the individual sites. The funding for this type of survey has in any case dropped off in recent years, but in its place has emerged funding from HLF to undertake landscape community surveys and this is now providing a new resurgence in Landscape archaeology. These surveys are allowing for the production of detailed mapping and analysis of some very significant archaeological sites and the process has been both rewarding for the participants and immensely valuable for our understanding of our wider archaeological landscapes.

Funding outside the box: Lasting impact on the “Other” volunteer

Karen Gavin, Big Heritage

As funding becomes ever more difficult to secure as archaeologists we sometimes need to look at alternative sources of funding. This may produce the need to deliver projects in diverse ways. By using a recent project funded by Cheshire West and Chester Council Health Department as a case study I will discuss how projects with differing requirements can be successful in engagement with the community as well as still being archaeologically robust.

The MAS, the ASM, the SMR and the HER – recording Merseyside’s Archaeology over the last 40 years and looking ahead
Ben Croxford, Merseyside Environmental Advisory Service

The Merseyside Archaeological Society was founded in response to the realisation that archaeological sites, and the opportunities to investigate them, were being lost due to redevelopment. One of the first actions of the newly-formed society was to call for a survey to be carried out, identifying all of the known potential sites of interest in the then County of Merseyside. Starting in 2014 the results of that first survey began to be digitised, resulting in the new and improved Historic Environment Record for Merseyside. Though this phase of work is now finished, there remains much to be done with updates and new discoveries waiting to be added, work which volunteers and community groups can play a key role in.

From interest to influence: How to be an advocate for archaeology

Rob Lennox, University of York

The CBA seeks to protect archaeology by lobbying for proper regulation, recognition, and support for the historic environment. We rely on our members not only to support our work, but also to speak up themselves for the things that matters to them. This talk will explain how everyone can be an advocate for archaeology – and it’s not half so difficult as you think!

Summing up Day 2 of Past Forward Conference Mike Heyworth


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