Monday, 18 July 2011

News - BBC

Please look at the short film by the BBC at

This is a contemporary rehash of a concern for skills shortages in archaeology that has been going on for some time now. Look at the BAJR for many examples of threads on this subject. Skills are being lost all the time due to undercutting for contracts, a lack of training (I started in 1990 and never had a days training - all learnt on the job) and archaeologists coming cheap. Diggers are laid off once to often and go and do something else instead; if you want to buy a house and/or have a family it is all but impossible to carry on in the job; archaeology is unregulated, in that anyone can set themselves up as an archaeological unit; many diggers are now forced to be self-employed and lose sick pay, holiday pay and unionisation protection.

Mike Heyworth of the CBA states that there has been a 7% reduction in professional archaeologists - surprise! No one who leaves college with huge debts wants to live like a student for the rest of their 'career'. Archaeology needs to be regulated and move to chartered status. Developers rule the roost at the moment and archaeology is a very small percentage of their outlay when developing a site (we worked out that on one site the archaeology cost the equivalent of three windows in the new office block!). As multi-skilled professionals we should be paid professional rates, not arriving on site to be laughed at by labourers taking home better pay.

The film also talks about volunteers. The reporter obviously knows nothing about the commercial world of archaeology. Volunteers can never dig a commercial site. Diggers need to be on site 5 days a week, for months. Professional diggers work 12 months a year (if they are lucky). But we need volunteers to get involved, learn about the job and what it entails, and support professionals politically from those that want to turn the clock back and have our heritage destroyed without record as it was before PPG16. This is not a war between volunteers and professionals, as some would like to see it. We need them united to fight for our past.   

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