Wednesday, 21 February 2018


     Last time I talked about the relative absence of an effective legal framework here in the UK. Over the years things have improved, and it would be remiss of us to consider Detectorists, with their infernal bleeping machines, the root of all evils.

     Indeed far too often we are the harbingers of our own doom and much of this, I believe, is because we have forgotten our role. Yes.....we can excavate and record. Make use of the most modern of techniques (and technologies). But all of this is to no avail if we forget why we do it in the first place.    

     You see we often think that we are "rescuing" something in the face of modern development. And sometimes that may indeed be the case. We may think that we "preserve" data, materials and landscapes. But that is not the point either.

     We need to ask ourselves if we "rescue" archaeology, then the question is not "From what?" but should be "For whom?". Likewise preservation and display is a key function of the modern archaeologists, again we need to consider the why and wherefore of what we do.

     The point is, and I am getting there (albeit rather tangentially), that whatever we do is worthless and a waste of time if we are unable to communicate and share our passion and knowledge. You would have thought that the days of men in elbow patched tweed coats muttering over a whisky in a musky room full of pipe smoke are long gone. And they are. But if such conversations have been replaced by anonymous academics, muttering over the interweb and sharing  a pers. comms. over a mug of coffee in a sanitised "Staff Social Area" then we have truly lost the plot.

     Many institutions, professional companies and projects include "Community Involvement" within the research design. Good. Similarly dissemination of results takes place across a variety of media fora......academic journals, internet groups, conferences, TV and press media etc etc. Blogs and twitter such as this too. So you would think that we would have a handle on the whole "narrative" thing by now.

Afraid not. You really have got to read this article.

"A charity shop called in expert archaeologists after a donor handed in a box of dinosaur bones that could be five million years old."

Now before anybody gets on their high horse and wonders why I read such a "newspaper" let me assure you that the sports pages are not actually that bad. More to the point is that such garbarge could find it's way onto the pages of, circulation wise, one of the UK's most read papers. Especially now that "Page 3" is no longer a distraction.

     FFS....surely somebody checks this drivel. What has an archaeologist to do with dinosaurs? Especially those that survived mass extinction and wandered our shores as recently as 5mya.

     If we do not control the narrative then we cede that authority to quacks and coots with their ability to harbour divisive opinions based on false science.

     Maybe, just maybe, it really is time to "take back control". Better news and views next week, but far be it from me to preempt what current affairs might arise in the meantime.