The Grey Literature Problem: How to re-write your local history

The Wallingford meeting 2014


Wallingford, showing outlines of Saxon burh, and position of Leicester University trenches 2008

The biggest problem in British archaeology is the grey literature problem. Since the launch of PPG 16 and developer funded archaeology in 1990, hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on developer funded archaeology.  And though a few flagship projects have been properly published, the vast majority of excavations exist only in ‘grey literature’ that is reports contributed by the excavators to local planning authorities in order to get planning permission. These reports are mostly totally unknown and often in practice inaccessible to local societies and independent archaeologists.

How can local societies use Grey Literature to re-write their local history? Many local societies have published accounts of the archaeology of their local area and see it as one of their major functions to keep up-to-date with and interpret the archaeology of their local area. The conference will demonstrate how this should be done. Speakers from English Heritage, commercial archaeology and the universities will outline the problem:  any contribution from a local archaeological society that has made use of grey literature would be very welcome

In addition to the opportunities to hear reports of work by local societies, the conference will also give an opportunity to hear about and possibly visit Wallingford, a major Saxon and early Medieval town, much of which is still open ground.

There will also be a report from Bob Randall on the new CR/CIA resistivity meter, which has been totally redesigned with revolutionary new improvements.

The conference will be held at Wallingford on Saturday, 6th September 2014 in association with The Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society, with thanks to Gerard Latham.

For the booking form and programme please click the New Conference Leaflet .  This is an Adobe pdf file and will open in a separate window.  Please print and post off to the address on the form.

The afternoon session will be devoted as usual to reports of the work of local societies: offers of contributions should be sent to either Kevan Fadden or Keith Foster.

Further details of Wallingford can be obtained from the web site of The Wallingford Historical and Archaeological Society (TWHAS).


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.


Click here for report on the conference.


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. The 2014 conference will be held at Wallingford. 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

For further information please contact Keith Foster   the Hon Treasurer, Kevan Fadden, the Hon Acting Secretary, or Andrew Selkirk, the Chairman and Webmaster.

 Andrew Selkirk,

 Chairman and Webmaster


24th April 2014 

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