Our CEO, Chris Brayne, and Chief Strategy Officer, Giles Woodhouse, and members of the team attended the line-up of talks, meetings and awards, which brought together colleagues from across the archaeological world to discuss industry topics and celebrate successes.

We were delighted to be part of this special event for the CBA’s 75th celebrations, particularly during our own 40th year. Given that both organisations also share similar aims and objectives around the education of the public through archaeology, Giles’ presentation on the day looked at how we are approaching delivering on public benefit into the future.

The impacts of technological change and consumer behaviour, questions of globalisation and citizenship, an ageing population and an increasing generational gap, all present challenges and opportunities in this field.

Where heritage and archaeology are play only a small part in the formal National Curriculum, we need to consider how young people access and consume heritage content in their education. One approach that we have developed over the last year is experiential and multi-modal learning packages for schools, which deliver National Curriculum objectives using archaeology as the vehicle. Our Community & Education team were on hand at the event to demonstrate the activities we have developed that can be used for STEM learning, for example, with test tube geology using sweets.

We are also working to make our knowledge base more accessible, engaging and relevant via digital platforms, investing in digital technologies that can enhance the public’s ability to engage with and understand the heritage around them. This includes augmented or virtual reality tools and 3D models of artefacts or archaeological contexts. We have embraced digital platforms to extend our reach across social media and the web, to meet the twofold needs of potential customers and those curious for information or knowledge.

Community archaeology at a local level remains a hugely important arena for developing meaningful engagement. The challenge lies in providing an inclusive environment that offers something to a diverse range of people. How do we reach out to, and engage all parts of society to be able to appreciate and enjoy their heritage environment?

Strategy Director, Giles Woodhouse, spoke to delegates about the future of Wessex Archaeology

While the development of relevant archaeological content and improvements to the means to access it are two key factors, community engagement in under-represented or disengaged populations is another. A new and emerging opportunity to promote inclusion through archaeology and heritage engagement is through social prescribing. There is a growing evidence base on its efficacy in improving wellbeing.

Operation Nightingale is a great example of this – something that the subsequent keynote lecture from Richard Osgood demonstrated – and we have worked with many other organisations in the past to unlock the wellbeing benefits heritage can bring.

In fact, our key 40th anniversary monograph at the event was our Operation Nightingale Barrow Clump project, which serves as a great illustration of the power of archaeology to be inclusive and support the wellbeing of its participants. The publication is now available to buy through Oxbow.

We’d like to extend our congratulations to all the winners of the Marsh Awards. Unfortunately, this celebratory event was marred by the disrespectful reactions of some audience members to Dani Bradford’s research into sexual misconduct in fieldwork. We support the CBA’s statement on this and also at the time offered our own thoughts on Twitter:

Thank you @anthroqveer for sharing your incredibly brave and important research. We too were very surprised and disappointed, and we condemn this behaviour from those who clearly have so much to learn from your work.

As a leading employer in this field, we have a duty to ensure that fairness, inclusion and respect is an intrinsic part of our organisational policy. You can find out more in our About Us section and our Vacancies page.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Mike Heyworth and the organisers at the CBA for putting on a fantastic event.