Jenny Vaughan said
> I'm not quite sure what else in the way of 'promoting archaeology to the
> wider community' is envisaged. People interested in archaeology will hear
>about the local society and join and may then get the opportunity to take
>part in fieldwork.
I disagree profoundly with this statement. People interested in archaeology
will not automatically join the local Society. They need, first to know the
Society exists. Societies cannot automatically assume that potential new
members know how to find out about them. This requires publicity at all
levels from Libraries and events to press publicity, websites and local
radio.Many people have no background of joining local Societies and are
afraid to join because they are interested in archaeology but are not very
knowledgeable and are convinced that Archaeological Societies are full of
archaeological experts who will despise them and look down on them and may
be full of cliques that will exclude them.
Jenny also wrote:
> Those who don't want to join societies either lack the time or are
> presumably not enough interested to commit themselves.
> The Big Dig gave an .......opportunity for
> people such as this too have a taste of what digging involves with some
> professional guidance. This may be as much as they wanted; or it may
persuade them to
> join, or indeed form a local history/archaeological society or do a course
> of some sort, but it's difficult to see how the wider archaeological
> community and/or the professionals can help them (or be expected to help
> them) in the longer term if they choose not to do so. They may of course
> pursue their own documentary researches into their house or area. They may
> just continue digging up their gardens.
No, No No, No, No. Time Team has got people interested in archaeology who
have no experience of archeology at all, no experience of joining societies
and no experience of research or evening classes. The Big Dig was ideal
because it meant people fascinated by the subject from the programme could
have a go themselves without any supercilious expert looking over their
These are just the people that archaeology needs to get involved. Many could
be potential Society members, evening class attenders and local activists
for their archaeological heritage. My Society was willing to get involved
but we wanted to do it within a County context working with other
archaeological societies and our local authority archaeologists. We could
then gone out to get good news items in local newspapers and local radio,
using the Big Dig as the attraction to get local people interested, we could
also have provided a before and after care service for people involved and
encouraged membership of local Societies. But we only heard about the event
in March and there was not time to organise this. As Jenny says local
societies are organised by people in their spare time and these people are
in short supply.
The Big Dig was an opportunity botched by all involved, Time Team by poor
organisation and failing to think through the management and constraints of
the ground support needeed and by the archaeological community for being so
contemptuous of an opportunity to really enthuse and enlist the very people
that they always claim they want to understand and support them. Bother all
discussions about 'television as 'text", next time a local authority wants
to axe archaeological jobs and everybody is wringing their hands because
local people do not understand or support them. Just remember you had your
opportunity and blew it.
> must do some work
> >Many of these local archaeological groups have around 100 or 150 members,
> >whom about 30 or 40 may be 'active'. And many societies' main function
> >seems to be to provide lectures, training and interesting projects for
> >members. This is laudable as far as it goes, and many are involved in
> >excavation, research and survey work, but I'm not sure how many societies
> >are actively promoting archaeology to the wider community. For example,
> >many local societies are participating in National Archaeology Days at
> >end of this month? I know of one or two, but a look at the listings
> >suggests that most events are sponsored by museums. Perhaps more local
> >societies should join forces with the local museum for the occasion - and
> >make sure their involvement is publicised.
> >Certainly, I don't think the societies themselves represent the wider
> >community - their membership seems to be overwhelmingly white, middle
> >and reasonably well educated. Not a good advertisement for the
> >accessibility and inclusiveness of archaeology.
> >Rodney Gunner wrote:
> >>How do we keep up the interest which has been generated in community
> >One way is to promote local archaeological societies<
> >One won't build on the enthusiasm that Big Dig may have generated simply
> >giving people the address of the local archaeological society. Not
> >wants to join a society. Much of the enthusiasm over the weekend seems
> >be have been shared by families - and how many societies currently offer
> >family membership (I don't mean just husband-and-wife joint membership)
> >events for the whole family?
> >But perhaps we need a Young Archaeologists' Club for adults?
> >John Clark