Last week we saw the directors of Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Heritage Museum warning their local authority that planning conditions which include archaeological intervention are no longer sustainable. All because of the lack of suitable archive storage. In recent days the problem of archive deposition has been discussed in British Archaeology and on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 (ref 2hrs 53 min).
Wessex Archaeology has been looking at how we can help solve these problems for several years. We know that there is no single answer but we are determined to play our part. Our own frustrations with closed repositories have prompted us to warn our clients that they may face on-going problems due to unfulfilled planning conditions. To help our clients and the wider audience understand the situation we have collated a set of questions and answers which, we hope, set out our position clearly.
In March we will be attending the meeting of the The Archaeological Archives Forum where we will be sharing our experiences of successful solutions. We have been working with the Archaeology Data Service to develop a protocol for the archive storage of digital photographs and have supported museums in their work to enhance and implement retention policies for archaeological material.
We will continue to support our clients in their efforts to meet planning conditions and wish to work with local authorities and museums curators to achieve those ends. We will also join our colleagues in the effort to lobby at local and national levels for a considered and coherent long term plan.