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HERFORUM  December 2004

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Subject:

Re: Watching Briefs - A Useful Form of Archaeological Mitigation?

From:

David Evans <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Issues related to Sites & Monuments Records <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 8 Dec 2004 09:02:57 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (278 lines)

"Archaeological deposits and structures" then it includes fall out
shelters and peat.


Thank You
David Evans
Historic Environment Record Officer
01454 863649

>>> [log in to unmask] 07/12/2004 14:10:27 >>>
Perhaps because there was nothing there to study .. or perhaps because
no-one looked to see if whether there was or not. An excellent shorthand
for something .. but we're left being unsure what it's a shorthand for!

Duncan may well be right in general about common usage winning out. But
in the context of - e.g. - a public inquiry, clarity and precision of
expression can count for a great deal.

What's wrong with using  the term 'archaeological remains' to refer to
the things we study and reserving the term 'archaeology' to refer to the
activity of studying them?

Roger

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Issues related to Sites & Monuments Records on behalf of
BROWN, Duncan
        Sent: Tue 07/12/2004 10:04
        To: [log in to unmask]
        Cc:
        Subject: Re: Watching Briefs - A Useful Form of Archaeological
Mitigation?



        "There was no archaeology there" does however imply that no
scientific
        study took place perhaps because there was nothing there to
study...
        Sounds like an excellent shorthand to me.

        We could end up going around in semantic circles where the
pedantic are
        continually arguing against the less well-informed and their
common
        usage. In the history of semantics, unfortunately common usage
usually
        wins out (especially when it is shorter).

        Duncan


        -----Original Message-----
        From: THOMAS, Roger M
        Sent: 06 December 2004 12:43
        To: [log in to unmask]
        Subject: Re: Watching Briefs - A Useful Form of Archaeological
        Mitigation?

        I entirely agree with Andy. Archaeology' is the activity. The
ambiguity
        inherent in the phrase 'there was no archaeology there' makes
the point
        perfectly! I try hard always to use the term 'archaeological
remains' -
        simply because it is the phrase used throughout PPG 16, so has
that
        authority behind it.

        Roger

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Issues related to Sites & Monuments Records
        [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Kirkham, Andy
(DSD)
        Sent: 06 December 2004 12:19
        To: [log in to unmask]
        Subject: Re: Watching Briefs - A Useful Form of Archaeological
        Mitigation?

        I know this may sound like nit-picking but I'm sure archaeology
is never
        found as the result of a watching brief. I thought archaeology
was the
        act
        of "scientific study of the cultural remains and monuments of
the remote
        past" or something like that and I fear it does the
"archaeological
        comunity" no favours to mis-apply the term with wild abandon.
Making
        every
        hole in the ground or fragment of broken pottery into
"archaeology" is
        not
        just gross misuse of the language it's unsustainable and
downright
        confusing. So come on you professionals, understand your craft,
let's
        have
        less of the sloppy talk, and the arguments may become a little
more
        meaningful.
        Cheers - Andrew

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Issues related to Sites & Monuments Records
        [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Newman, Richard
        Sent: 06 December 2004 11:29
        To: [log in to unmask]
        Subject: Re: Watching Briefs - A Useful Form of Archaeological
        Mitigation?


        Louise

        Watching briefs as a technique are a perfectly valid type of
        archaeological response but they are misused which is why there
value is
        reduced. Amongst the problems are:

        Curators often apply a watching brief as an easy get out
response to an
        archaeological condition applied to a planning consent.  They
are seen
        as the lowest level of archaeological response and applied in
        circumstances where no archaeology is known but the possibility
exists
        or where for various reasons it may be difficult to get a
developer to
        finance an excavation.  This is lazy, sloppy and spineless
thinking.
        Where a site's potential is unknown it should be assessed and
evaluated,
        preferably as a pre-determination exercise and then the most
appropriate
        form of mitigation applied.  Using a watching brief as a soft
option
        often leads to a developer wasting their money and an
archaeologist
        their time as a pointless condition is discharged.  Conversely,
        misapplication of a watching brief condition can lead to an
        archaeologist trying to deal with 'shed loads' of archaeology on
a site
        which should have been excavated.

        Contractors will frequently send out inexperienced staff to
reduce costs
        and because so many watching briefs are a waste of time they do
not wish
        to commit their best qualified staff.  Yet watching briefs often
require
        the recognition of ephemeral archaeological indicators within
less than
        ideal circumstances as well as the ability to deal with
developers via
        liaison, negotiation and explanation.  Thus watching briefs
require a
        contractor's best and most experienced staff not their least
        experienced.

        Watching briefs are applied to sites and in circumstances where
they
        cannot possibly succeed.  Little will be gained watching a drot
tear
        through a greensand landscape.  There may be archaeology to
record but
        it is doubtful if anyone would notice!

        Watching briefs should be applied as a mitigation response in
        circumstances where the presence of archaeology is known but
where it is
        considered that a watching brief will provide adequate
opportunity to
        answer the questions being posed of the archaeology.  Often this
will be
        a part of a suite of archaeological mitigatory responses.
Sometimes
        they will be the only appropriate response for technical reasons
related
        to demolition or other programming issues.  They should not be
applied
        speculatively.  Even the permanent presence watching brief on a
pipeline
        is a misuse.  Here, as with some quarries, in areas where no
indication
        of previous archaeology came from assessment or evaluation strip
and
        record excavation should be used if remains are subsequently
discovered.
        Again watching brief recording should be confined to areas of
known
        archaeology where full excavation is considered unnecessary or
is
        impractical for sound engineering reasons.

        There is a problem of terminology here.  Observers in areas of
unknown
        potential in quarries or on pipelines or other major earth
moving
        projects should not be considered to be undertaking a watching
brief but
        should be seen as inspectors who call in an excavation team
where
        required.  They may undertake watching brief recording if such a
team is
        not required to carry out an emergency excavation.  Watching
brief
        recording should only be undertaken when it can  be defined
clearly as
        the most appropriate response.  Watching briefs should not be
undertaken
        as a safety measure where a smaller discrete development has
been
        evaluated adequately and no archaeological remains encountered.

        In Cumbria Watching Brief conditions are most often applied to
small
        projects, ie a single house plot or smaller, and are usually
applied
        following a site assessment but not necessarily an evaluation,
because
        of the small size of the site. Of these in the past year 40%
have
        produced findings of archaeological significance but only 10%
have
        produced datable features or structures.  To improve these
percentages
        we consider that better targeting is required.

        Hope this helps

        Richard Newman
        County Archaeologist, Cumbria County Council
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