Heritage and Community Engagement in Action

Posted on October 25, 2019


The last of the CIfA sessions that we videoed. This one is on public archaeology:

Session info

In this session we will explore examples of successful collaboration between professional archaeological and cultural heritage practitioners and local communities. The focus will be on experiences gained from working in communities that have had less exposure to exploring their own heritage. We hope to illustrate by way of examples from UK/Ireland and international projects, how an appreciation of one’s heritage can be empowering and an enlightening process for everyone involved. This will be full of good news stories and everyone should leave with a smile.

Organisers: Paul Wheelhouse, Golder Associates UK
Louise Martin, Morecambe Bay Partnership

Hapton’s Heritage 2012-2018

This paper is a tale of two projects in Lancashire, set over a period of 6 years, but is in truth a story that is still developing as the project continues. Hapton is a small village in east Lancashire, set between the towns of Accrington and Burnley. This project has spanned two HLF funded investigations investigating medieval archaeology, one focusing on Hapton Castle and the other a proposed hunt for a lost medieval settlement called Birtwistle in the uplands above Hapton. Aims and objectives of these projects, while informed by archaeologists, have been led and developed by volunteers making this a rewarding project for everyone involved and yielding unexpected archaeological results. The paper will present two short video interviews with volunteers to get their positive (and negative!) experiences of these community projects and use this baseline to discuss critical analysis of the project and its legacy. This will present volunteer feedback straight from the source with no editing except where absolutely required! The aim is to present uncensored views of the people who really matter in these projects, the volunteers, and use this to judge the success of the project and its legacy for the community in their words, rather than just shouting about the archaeological results.

Andrew Burn, Bluestone Archaeology


In search of Mipoundi – community engagement in Congo

In response to the effects of a mining development in a remote forested area of southern Congo, a team of archaeologists set to work investigating the landscape through field reconnaissance. From a low knowledge base, and working collaboratively with regional specialists and the community, an ancient iron metalworking site, complete with furnace remains and manufactured tools was revealed. The development needs of the mining company required the site to be excavated, and so began an intense period of investigation, which included training 25 members of the local community in the field excavation skills of an archaeologist, revealing the metallurgical remains of their ancestors.

Paul Wheelhouse, Golder


In the bootsteps of their ancestors – experiences from the military community

With their own costumes, language, traditions and ranks – the military community is almost tribal in its nature. There is very definite identity and particular ethos and cultural heritage. Although living around and training over some of the most important archaeological landscapes in the UK, many of these individuals have felt that they have not had access to heritage other than Regimental traditions. Yet archaeology can empower, and the presence of such rich military heritage as part of the archaeological palimpsest provides the perfect access to engagement and to a wholly new appreciation of the landscapes in which they live. Connections provided by the excavations of ‘warriors with spear heads and shield bosses’ are palpable but unearthing the remains of old training camps and practice trenches are even more inspirational. This consideration becomes almost reverential when the same people work on archaeological sites of their military forebears, on sites which are familiar to them on their Regimental colours, of Somme, Ypres, Arras and others. Following in the bootsteps of their ancestors is a powerful experience for this community and this paper will explore the power of proximity and how heritage of the modern can inspire and provide new insights.

Richard Osgood, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Ministry of Defence


CSI: Sittingbourne – professionals, volunteers and visitors: 2009-2018

This paper will review nine years of a community archaeological conservation laboratory set in a Kent town centre shopping mall. From general “delight… – a) actual work of conservation in progress so that we could see; b) marvellous people who explained so much and fired us with their enthusiasm; c) what a good site- bang in the middle of a shopping area… please carry on”; to being “thrilled …(this) is right on our doorstep! …has given us a new pride and respect…” And from the general public, to artists: “I find these images really incredible – to be able to capture such delicate and detailed images of things that otherwise might never have come to light is an incredible thing – I feel like I’m being let in on incredible secret…”; And children young and old: “I hated history in school but this history is sweet”.

Dana Goodburn-Brown


Worcester life stories: the rewards and challenges of meshing agendas in partnership

Somewhere in a gloomy local authority back office, an HER Officer sat with 4TB of archival photographs. ‘These need to be online’ she muttered. Suddenly the phone rang. It was a Clinical Psychologist from the local NHS Trust who wanted some help providing a programme of local history sessions for the older people she was working with. ‘I have exactly what you’re looking for’. They talked, and their ideas and enthusiasm grew. Suddenly it was more than photographs and history sessions; it was a many tentacled ‘thing’, with a digital life story, links with the wider community, and a whole load of training needs! ‘What a great project – we‘ve got this in the bag’ they said. If only they’d realised that this was just the start of it…. We would like to share our story around the challenges of collaborative working, in maintaining focus in the face of (sometimes) competing agendas and how far we’ve come in shaping a new multifaceted community project.

Sheena Payne-Lunn, Worcester City Council and Dr Natasha Lord, Worcestershire Health and Care Trust https://youtu.be/wP9GdaFe5QE


Posted in: Videos