In an earlier message I said:
People interested in archaeology will hear
>>about the local society and join and may then get the opportunity to take
>>part in fieldwork.

With which Catherine Petts profoundly disagreed:

Perhaps I should have qualified the remark - I try to be brief.

I also said:
>Those who don't want to join societies either lack the time or are
> presumably not enough interested to commit themselves.
> The Big Dig gave an .......opportunity for
> people such as this

Catherine again:-

>No, No No, No, No. Time Team has got people interested in archaeology who
>have no experience of archeology at all, no experience of joining societies
>and no experience of research or evening classes. The Big Dig was ideal
>because it meant people fascinated by the subject from the programme could
>have a go themselves without any supercilious expert looking over their

As usual, in an attempt to be reasonably brief I did not cover all aspects
of the matter and nothing I said was actually the opposite of this! I'm not
denying TT has introduced people to archaeology, but without a comprehensive
survey of all those who took part you can't actually know that what I said
was not also partly true!

But she goes
on to say more or less what I was saying - that people might then be
encouraged to join a local society. What I don't see is how, as I said " the
wider archaeological community and/or the professionals can help them (or be
expected to help them) in the longer term if they choose not to" [join a
local society]. By the way - by referring to documentary
research I was picking up on the fact that several people involved had
actually been doing this, not saying I thought they should.

But 'supercilious experts'??. My partner says -
what does this mean?  If it means
objecting to someone advising you how best to ensure that the physical
destruction of possibly thousands of years of human existence is conducted
and recorded in such a way that it might be understood and perhaps
even enrich future generations - then thats OK superciliousness by me.

Anyone with a genuine interest in archaeology should be prepared to be told
the right way to achieve the best
result - its just like any other form of apprenticeship or training.

Me again:
I don't believe the archaeological community was contemptuous. Many of them
were probably wary of getting involved or of having to cope with the local
enthusiasts. Others probably had other things to do in their spare time or
were already committed elsewhere.

I and my partner already give up a large part of our time
helping to run an amateur archaeological society and don't see why people
should try to make us feel guilty about not being directly involved in the
Big Dig.

Nor should professional archaeologists be lumped together and criticised as
they have been. I profoundly disagree with the alleged quote from David
Miles in the Guardian article that some archaeologists " think you have to
have a PhD before you're allowed anywhere near a pit". I challenge him to
find a single one who thinks that way, quite the opposite (even if he really
only said BA/BSc).