Public Heritage: Negotiating Best Practice

Posted on June 3, 2020


The historic environment of Britain includes rich and diverse sites and landscapes, with materials and archives curated by a range of organisations. As archaeologists working in across sectors in Wales, we are interested in how public heritage best practices are developed across different regions and countries in these islands. There are many stakeholders in public heritage – some of specific relevant to different national or regional concerns – and including those working in museums, on archaeological excavations, in survey work, for national organisations, in local societies, and in many other settings. Public heritage work in Wales offers a specific series of concerns, including economic conditions, the post-industrial history of the country, the importance of Welsh language and Welsh medium delivery, the structure of cultural heritage management in Wales, the issues of engaging diverse communities, as well as the country’s geography and infrastructure. This session will provide a forum to discuss and share best practice in these different sectors of the historic environment, addressing specific concerns with public heritage in Wales and how best practice could be developed with reference to other case studies. We welcome papers relating directly to public heritage practice in Wales, as well as comparison case studies from further afield; we especially invite papers that detail examples of work accomplished through multi-agency collaboration, those that integrate a creative emphasis in public heritage, and those that would be willing to develop strategies for best practice in the future.

Seren Griffiths (UCLan)

Ffion Reynolds (Cadw)

Cat Rees (CR Archaeology)

Tintagel and the Kingdom of Heaven: Mythology & The Republic of the Soul

Tintagel is at the centre of a continuing controversy between English Heritage, Cornwall Council and a range of stakeholders. This controversy is often seen in ideological (colonialist versus nationalist) terms, and as such, misses the underlying causes of conflict. This paper attempts to navigate the issues and review them using Plato’s Theory of Soul from the Republic and Phaedrus. The Theory of Soul has three parts: a logical one, a spirited one and an appetitive one. Attempts at resolution in the case of Tintagel often focus on historic detail and legal arguments, which in turn aim at a series of binary one- off outcomes.
The controversies include the interpretation of the site, in particular the presence or absence of Cornish people in its past, the use of and access to the site, the management (especially of art works and infrastructure), ownership of the site, and the promotion and marketing aspects (especially when ‘overly commercial’).

Caradoc Peters (Truro College, Plymouth University)

Public Archaeology at Bryn Celli Ddu: Sharing Prehistory

This paper presents the results of an undergraduate project exploring attitudes to heritage and public archaeology at Bryn Celli Ddu, and more widely results from an online survey. The survey was undertaken during the 2018 public archaeology landscape project around Bryn Celli Ddu Neolithic passage tomb. The results examine current attitudes to prehistoric archaeology among members of the public who visit Bryn Celli Ddu, who visits prehistoric heritage sites in Wales, using Bryn Celli Ddu as a case study, and ways in which members of the public would prefer information to be disseminated information about this historic environment to interested members of the public in Wales.

Sian Bramble, Sanaa Hijazi, Courtney Mainprize, Maranda Wareham, and Seren Griffiths (University of Central Lancashire)

From Bryn Celli Ddu to Babeldaob: Bringing together Lessons Learned from Community Comics Projects in Wales and Micronesia

Wales and the Pacific islands of Micronesia are – almost literally – half a world apart. Yet both countries face similar issues regarding the economic, political and cultural context of telling stories about the past. This paper will look at community-based outreach projects about archaeology, history and heritage in both countries which are using comics as a medium, and discuss similarities in how such projects are addressing issues surrounding language, cultural resource management, post-industrial/post-colonial heritage concerns, diverse indigenous and incomer identities, geography and infrastructure.
The examples will illustrate ways in which such projects can constructively align professional and/or government agencies with community-based organisations, can prioritise and enable local concerns and curiosities, and can bring together specialist and non-specialist input to create more sustainable narratives of the past. Lessons learned from such projects can better leverage creative engagement with heritage as part of broader public/community interactions with the past.

John Swogger (Freelance Archaeological Illustrator)

Collaborating on the Coast: Making Heritage for the Future at Orford Ness

Formal collaboration between CITiZAN (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network), Heritage Futures and the National Trust on Orford Ness has brought benefits to all involved. Through observing, working with and interviewing CITiZAN participants Heritage Futures has gained a deeper understanding of the motivations of archaeologists, both professionals and volunteers. The wider scope of Heritage Futures provides CITiZAN with an opportunity to address broader questions surrounding the value that places hold for people, the ways in which humans and non-humans interact in the present and how and why we save things for the future. Working with the National Trust in an ecologically sensitive area has highlighted the dynamics of managing landscapes that are significant for both natural and human made environments. Volunteers have enhanced the project through contributing a wide range of skills and expertise. This paper will explore the benefits and challenges of transdisciplinary work and how this has informed ideas for the planned Phase 2 of CITiZAN.

Lara Band (CITiZAN; MOLA) and Nadia Bartolini (University of Exeter)


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