Remembering Mick Aston
The 2013 Conference of the Council for Independent Archaeology was held on 21st September 2013 at Shipham Village Hall in Somerset, and was a great success with over 80 people attending.
The conference was intended to celebrate Mick Aston’s work at his home village of Winscombe, which is next door to Shipham. But sadly Mick died on 24th June and the conference became a memorial to his work.
In the Annual General Meeting that preceded the conference, the accounts and t he officers reports were all accepted and two new members joined the Council – Gerard Latham and Alan D’Henin: Alan D’Henin agreed to take over as Editor of the Newsletter following Tony Clifford’s resignation.
The Conference began with an appreciation of Mick Aston by his friend and long-time colleague James Bond, who said that Mick has been his Best Man at his wedding and he showed us a photo of the ceremony, the last time that Mick was ever known to wear a collar and tie. Teresa Hall, Mick’s partner and co-worker, then talked about Mick’s Winscombe village project which was a follow-up to his earlier Shapwick project, and proved to be an opportunity to investigate a different kind of village.
Other speakers then explained the value of test pitting in a public park at Hindley Hall by the Wolverhampton Archaeology Group, the use of hand-held GPS receivers in surveying, the archaeology of the Tankardstown copper mine in Ireland, community archaeology in Bideston on the Wirral, a Dominican priory in Pontefract, and the archaeology of the Stanton Drew stone circle in Somerset. It concluded with a lively appeal for the value of upstanding archaeology and the study of the vernacular buildings in Somerset.
The next conference will be held in the autumn of 2014. Offers of papers are welcome and offers by local societies to host the conference would be particularly appreciated. Ideas and suggesting – even the most tentative – should be made to the Treasurer, Keith Foster, or to the Chairman, Andrew Selkirk.
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The Council for Independent Archaeology was formed in 1985 to promote the interests of independent archaeology, that is archaeology carried out independently of government funding. It promotes the interests of local societies and amateur archaeologists and historians and those who seek to explore our history without using government funding.
The main activity of the Council is holding an annual meeting, usually in the autumn. For long, meetings were held at universities, but these have proved too expensive, and recent meetings have been held in village halls, sponsored by local societies. In 2011 the meeting was held at Swadlingcote in Derbyshire, in 2012 at Hackleton in Northamptonshire, and in 2013 at Shipham in Somerset. Offers and suggestions for future meeting places are welcome.
The council also promotes the production of a Resistivity Meter for archaeological prospection, and played a major role in the concerns over the Valletta Convention of the Council of Europe, which sought to restrict or abolish the activities of amateur archaeologists
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