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IntroductionElizabeth Wright & Matt Law
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The papers included in this special issue were originally presented at the 2011 conference of the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG) which was held at the University of Birmingham, in a session entitled The How and Why of Archaeology Outreach: case studies and reflexive approaches to public engagement. We had an overwhelming response to our call for papers, reflecting the massive surge in public engagement programmes in recent years. Subsequent TAGs have hosted numerous other sessions on similar themes, including two sessions in 2012, which have been published in a previous special issue of AP Journal.
Community Rescue: Saving sites from the seaTom Dawson
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Erosion threatens coastal sites around the globe and Scotland has been pioneering a methodology of community action that brings local groups and professional together to work at sites before they are destroyed. This builds upon the Historic Scotland rapid coastal surveys and the follow-up analysis of collected data to prioritise action. Projects such as Shorewatch and the Scotland’s Coastal Heritage at Risk Project (SCHARP) have seen communities update records and participate in practical work. This paper presents the background to these community initiatives, giving details of two projects; the excavation of an Iron Age Wheelhouse in the Hebrides and the relocation of Bronze Age structures in Shetland.
Public Archaeology and Memory at The Hive, Worcester 2008 to 2012: A case study of reflexive approaches to community engagementJustin Hughes
The construction of the Hive, a new library and history center in Worcester, unearthed Roman remains that led to a community excavation in 2008. This article will delve into the process, including an extensive oral history programme conducted during 2011 and 2012.
Back to the Future? Presenting archaeology at the Green Man FestivalMatt Law, Ffion Reynolds & Jacqui Mulville
In the summer of 2011, Cardiff Osteoarchaeology Research Group was invited to present a number of archaeological engagement activities at the Green Man music festival as part of the Einstein’s Garden science learning area. The project, called Back to the Future?: Animals and archaeology in Einstein’s Garden comprised a number of activities, designed to cater for a wide range of ages as the festival audience typically includes young people and families. Over four days more than 2000 people visited the stall. This paper will briefly outline the activities presented, and will reflect on the challenges posed by outreach at a music festival, in particular how to hook the main festival demographic, and how to evaluate success.
Can 3000 schoolchildren make history? How to involve a community in exploring its late medieval roots; field report from an ongoing slow archaeology projectAnne Traaholt & B. Kjartan Fønstelien
Many archaeological excavations leave behind great amounts of unresearched cultural layers ready to be cleared when the bulldozers move in to start new construction at the site. This can be due to parts of site falling outside the main scientific focus or soil removed due to development without any prior proper excavation taking place. These soils, often rich in artefacts are later lost when new area use takes place. The project presented here shows how such cultural layers can provide valuable teaching grounds for young people even when they have been removed from the site. By creating a program where large numbers of schoolchildren from the region near to a particular site annually participate in excavations of a cultural layers rescued after the scientific researchers have left the site, we have put local history on the agenda. The children come with their teachers to a local museum and they all become ‘archaeologist for a day’ by participating in sifting through the soil, catalog the artefacts and add their understanding of their region’s history. All guided by archaeologists on the spot.
Involving schoolchildren in a long lasting excavation project gives a rare opportunity to develop a constructive relationship with a community.