Whilst browsing through some of the comments on this debate a passing thought
occurred to me about which I would be interested in people's views.
Many of you will have noticed Margaret Cox's recent append regarding the CBA
Wessex Conference, and her interest in having a speaker on re-enactment. This
made me think about the relationships between the professional archaeological
world and the amateur re-enactment & Living History groups, and to wonder if
archaeologists could work more directly with them to improve the overall
presentation and understanding of the subject.
It is very easy to dismiss these re-enactors as jokers and quite often their
presentations are, for want of a better word, questionable. However these
groups frequently get very large audiences, many of whom are genuinely
interested in the period being presented. With the growth of interest in
'Living History' as opposed to 'Battle Re-enactment' many re-enactors are
striving to improve the quality of their work (with the invaluable help of many
museums, archaeologists etc.) and they are more than willing to forge close
ties with the 'professionals'.
This desire to improve may provide an extra window for archaeology to broaden
its public visibility. At Jorvik the linking of the reconstructions with the
archaeology is a good, if static, example. Time Team's use of re-enactors
being a more recent example of showing how different approaches can be used in
a complimentary manner.
What I am proposing is that archaeological units might consider two options:
1. Inviting 'good quality' living history groups to help interpret their site,
although I would suggest that a very specific tie between the site & the
display be used rather than a generic 'background' cameo, to help raise the
profile of the work being carried on.
2. Working with the Re-enactment groups & Site owners to provide an
'archaeology stand' at a re-enactment events to help the public (and quite
possibly the re-enactors!) understand how the information the re-enactors are
using has been derived and to link this to real archaeological work ...
advertising current sites etc.
I'd be interested to hear peoples' views on this, and indeed on any aspect of
re-enactment. I have been involved in the development of Living History
displays for many years and I am always extrememly keen to improve their
The White Company (1450-1485)