I've been reading this discussion with interest and a little bit of frustration. As some of the points made relate to things that were set up when I chaired the HBSMR Users Group, it might be worth giving a few thoughts and, where appropriate, reminding everyone of why we did what we did. I've split it into three, as it's otherwise a long blether.
Attendance at meetings
Although the hope is for a large and representative number at every meeting, it's not always going to happen, for various reasons, many of which have been aired. Difficultly for travel is not an absolute and isn't determined by distance alone - personal factors, reliability and timetabling of transport all come into the equation. While I would hope that budgets stretch to travel, not all will be able to support regular overnight accommodation coasts . Just a fact of life for many, I suspect. There is clearly a difficulty in not everyone being able to get easily to meetings from all locations. That is at least one benefit in moving around, ensuring that everyone gets a chance to attend a meeting near them. It spreads the load and allows us all to get out and about. Travel is much more difficult for those covering large rural areas, such as Scottish-based colleagues. This is true even within their own areas (for example, when I was with Highland Council, I did occasion!
ally have overnight stays just to do site visits!). So let's exercise some tolerance for everyone else's difficulties, eh?
I don't want to stick to just one meeting place, and I don't want to visit London any more than I can help. So: let's start spreading it around further. It has always been difficult to get people to host meetings, be they HBSMR or National, but it's worth the effort. Sarah's right too: a meeting doesn't take much organising. Were you serious, Val? Were you serious, those who thought Shetland was a good idea? As an alternative, if everybody is ready for a 6 hour ferry trip from Oban or a plane ride landing on Traigh Mhor, Barra's cockle beach airport, we could ask Historic Scotland to let us have use of Kismul Castle, the ancestral home of the MacNeils. I could have a word with the family...? Exotic or what?
Jim McNeil, South Yorkshire Archaeology Service
Planning, Transport and Highways
Howden House, 1 Union Street, Sheffield, S1 2SH
Tel.: 0114 273 6428 Fax.: 0114 273 5002
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