CIA Committee 12th February 2012
We had a very successful and enjoyable committee meeting on Sunday, 12th February at Kevan Fadden’s House at Ampthill — a meeting made particularly enjoyable by a splendid lunch provided by Jean. (It is worth joining the committee of the CIA just to enjoy the lunch we have at committee meetings!)
It was agreed that the Swadlingcote meeting had been very successful – see report now online. We had a long and at times rambling discussion about the direction in which archaeology is going and I think that we all had a feeling that the belief that had arisen in recent years that archaeology can only be done for money, and that local societies can only dig if they first get a big grant to employ a professional. This, we all felt, was dragging archaeology in the wrong direction. Part of the trouble is that in order to get the grant you have to show that you are providing ‘access’ and that you should have lots of school children taking part, which therefore meant that you should chose a site that was not very important, but it didn’t matter if it was in effect wrecked or produced no results, providing that it was exciting at the time and everyone could take part, and you had lots of local press coverage.
What was really needed is to show that archaeology, good archaeology could be done on a shoestring without a grant which meant that one would have to choose important sites that would bring the intellectual stimulus that would attract the self-starters in a local society.
We decided therefore that the theme of the next conference should be ‘archaeology on a shoestring’ or ‘archaeology without a grant’ and that we should be looking for people to lecture who have carried out a successful project where grants if any, had never exceeded £5,000. Any volunteers? We need to publicise this widely.
The next question was where and when the next conference should be held. We thought it was probably too late and too difficult to organise a weekend conference and that it would be better to hold a one-day conference, and we should aim for September, preferably early in September before the school- university terms begin. Kevan pointed out that there is now a wide range of conference centres – he was organising a local conference in a nursery or garden centre where they were trying to expand to convert an old barn into an educational resource. (I remember that we visited such an educational centre on a farm when I was on the last pilgrimage on Hadrian’s Wall). We should look out some of these new conference centres rather than trying the traditional universities which are becoming too expensive.
We felt it should be within striking distance of London so that we could get up and back within a day. Litchfield was suggested as a favoured possibility since it also combines a visit to the cathedral. Does anyone know anything about Litchfield or its area, or indeed anywhere else in middle England – not too far from the motorway and preferably with some sort of public transport access?
We also discussed our resistivity meter. Bob Randall, who was present, demonstrated the prototype of the new meter, all based around a new wonder chip that was programmable, so that many of the activities at present done on ancillary gismos could all be incorporated in the single central chip. He said that since Christmas he had rather been neglecting the resistivity meter because he had a big project from one of his major clients. But that as soon as this was completed he hoped that he would be able to carry out the field tests necessary. He hoped that he would have the first batch of machines ready by the summer.
So if you have any ideas of a suitable venue for our meeting, or if you would like to tell us about your shoestring archaeology, or if you would like to place an order for the resistivity meter Mark 2, do email either Keith or Kevan who between them will be masterminding the conference and taking orders for the resistivity meter.
Andrew Selkirk, Webmaster
13th February 2012