I agree this is another case of rather lazy journalism hiding what is always a difficult and dangerous choice for both developers and archaeological contractors - how can we share the news here with the public without anyone getting killed or suing the contractors / developers / the brick manufacturers for injuries sustained on the site.
As an archaeological curator with more years' experience than I care to remember, I still am required to do induction courses for any site requiring more than minimal engineering, and to wear appropriate protective clothing (minimum of hard hat (in date!), hi-vis clothing, toe and sole-protected boots, and often, goggles when the weather is dry and dust may be injurious to health). In extreme circumstances (when I worked on a cholera burial ground of 1854 in Bristol, or a former arsenic works near there) full body protection suit and respirator is required: never do this on hot days! A range of these can be seen (for example) on the Honeywell web site (other purveyors of protective gear are available...).
This is really only common sense (ask any former worker in an asbestos factory choking on asbestosis), and it is a bit harsh on the developer and contractors to ask them to act otherwise.
I should say I am vigorously in favour of the public and enthusiasts being involved wherever feasible and safe: I have been a supporter of community archaeology for many years, and believe in pushing the participants to the limit, but not as far as a position where they are in danger.
With the community archaeology groups, we always draw up a (simple) Health and Safety assessment for any new site (some landowners, such as MoD / Landmark rightly insist on it), and this is useful for drawing people's attention to the potential pitfalls (sometimes literally!) that they may face.
Looking at the site in question, the trip hazards, 'water features' and other aspects would not encourage me to let any members of the general public on unless in very controlled circumstances.
Development & Environment
North Somerset Council
Tel: 01934 426256 or 07917265645
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From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Shiela Broomfield
Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2015 8:06 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Watching brief for industrial archaeology
Yes I spoke to the journalist and explained the situation beforehand and at leat she didn't quote me as I do not wish to cause problems with the excellent job I think that OA are doing on this project.
Leader of the Archaeological Group for Tonbridge Historical Society (amongst many other organisations!)
From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Tim Young
Sent: 14 November 2015 18:22
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Watching brief for industrial archaeology
Yes, from all I can see there was a watching brief. This article is apparently just typical rubbish/lazy journalism. The A21 was a big project - I really doubt there was anything untoward here - just the usual journalists seeking a headline about something they don't, or can't be bothered to, understand.
for an overview
for a note about the advance planning for the watching brief of the brickworks.
I have no detailed knowledge of this scheme, but see such newspaper reports too often to believe them. I have had similar reports of 'accidental' finds on projects of my mine, when they've have reported on something we worked hard to to find and investigate. I have even had the university add-in words like 'accidental' or 'stumbled across by students', because its the only way to get newspapers to cover discoveries. It is quite likely that such a good degree of preservation of the brickworks structure was unexpected (there is nothing flagged up on the brickworks in the EIA) - but that is how the system is supposed to work - you both plan for the expected and allow for the unexpected.
Just a few minutes of talking to those involved or even of searching the online documentation might have permitted proper reporting of the find - but that would be too easy wouldn't it?
Would a journalist even know what a watching brief was? - or realise that archaeological contractors are 'workers' on the scheme too?
Dr Tim Young
Email: [log in to unmask]
Phone: 07802 413704
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