The Council for British Archaeology raised important questions about the future of community archaeology at its Winter Forum last week.
This year’s Winter Forum was a celebration of the Community Archaeology Training Placement scheme that came to a close in 2014. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, this scheme provided on-the-job training placements for 51 budding community archaeologists – myself included!
Talks from several ex-placement holders featured case studies of good practice and highlighted the successes of the scheme. Whereas the discussion section of the day focused on the future of community archaeology and the challenges we face. Discussions were kicked off by short talks from myself, Kate Geary (Chartered Institute for Archaeologists), Adam Thompson (Centre for Applied Archaeology, University of Salford) and Rob Hedge (Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service) and a lively debate ensued. Issues identified included the need to appropriately value our skills and the benefits of community archaeology, the difficulties in recording the quantitative and qualitative outcomes of our work and the need for community engagement to be built into developer-funded work from the very start of a project. Positive suggestions were made about how to tackle these issues, before the conference came to a close with the chance to mingle over a glass of wine or two at the drinks reception.
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Laura Joyner – Community & Education Officer