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Subject:

Re: Time Team Big Dig - programme versus digging

From:

Nick Boldrini <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 2 Jul 2003 12:52:01 +0100

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Trying to bite my tongue (or fingers as I am typing) but cant ... quite ... do ... it

I agree with some of your sentiments Catherine, though not your vehemence. A one off event like the BD would be unlikely to stop posts being lost, for some of the reasons Jenny mentioned (just because people tried it once does not mean they give that much of a damn about it, enough to write letters and lobby anyway). You also seem to imply that if we havent been involved in BD then we have blown our one and only chance of involving the public. So this means the various Community Archaeology Projects we are supporting don't count for anything; nor do the Metal detecting Groups some of our team are involved with.

I also think its a little odd to say you didn't get involved for various good reasons such as timing and logistics etc and then lambast professional archaeologists who didn't get involved for similar reasons. (though I admit this was not so in my personal case, I do know of others who stayed clear for those reasons)

If BD was a missed opportunity (and your right it was, but then again, only if it is a one off) then the major amount of blame has to lie with its organisers, IE Time Team,  not the various people (in LA's, Societies, interested viewers or otherwise) who did not or could not get involved because of TT mistakes.

Notwithstanding that, it didn't go as badly as some feared, nor I would guess, as well as TT hoped. Paul Blinkhorn mentioned the site he was involved in and whilst that might have been an isolated example of the best that could come out of the project, and possibly far from many peoples experience of it (2 anecdotes - one of our local people for supervisor stayed in all weekend, only received one call and didn't visit that (for correct reasons); I have heard rumours that some people pinched the idea of doing a Test pit and went ahead with the project without being 'approved' by TT or, apparently, consulting the SMR or anyone else). However, the pastoral idyll Paul described seems to me to be the sort of Blue print TT should be using to run the scheme next year (assuming TT wish to, and they should let us know pdq if they intend to to avoid some of the kerfuffle from this time)

Finally, I have to agree with Jenny to some extent about people not becoming involved in societies. In a different context I Coordinate a volunteer group, we seem to have plenty of inquirers who briefly join, and then disappear when they (apparently) realise that to get something out it they are going to have to put in something, like some effort. Groups do have to advertise themselves, but you can spend a lot of time doing this for no appreciable increase in interest, in my experience. Perhaps a compromise/suggestion would be for TT to put details of local Socs in their BD pack next time, or team up with The Current Archaeology directory to get a copy of that to all Fan club members to see if that inspires them to join.

Just my thoughts, and hoping not to provoke more re-opening of wounds, but ways to learn and improve the BD for next year (again assuming it happens - does anyone know if TT actually have any plans for this??)

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.

best wishes

Nick Boldrini
SMR Computing Officer
Heritage Unit
North Yorkshire County Council
Direct Dial (01609) 532331
http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/environment/heritage.shtm#Archaeology

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