CBA North Chair’s Message
Dear Members and Friends of CBA North,
I hope in writing this to you CBA North’s members and friends of the group that you are all safe and well in these continuing unusual times. This year we are, perhaps, unfortunately more used to the strange circumstances that the Covid-19 pandemic has continued to force upon us. However, as my New Year’s message hinted at there have been some benefits and opportunities for the future as well.
These have included the greater provision of digital activities and materials. Two articles from Martin Joyce of the Appleby Archaeology Group and Maureen Norrie of the Teesside Archaeological Society, both group members of CBA North, have written two articles on how their two groups have fared and adapted to these strange times. Other online content again appears as the Festival of Archaeology is online, again including happenings in the CBA North region. Archaeology studies and research, as well as promotion and publicity, have continued on in 2021 across the CBA North region.
Fieldwork and field trips, as well as museums and libraries, have all continued to adapt and re-adapt with the changing and often very local circumstances. These have included the development of new projects and practices also. Frances McIntosh of English Heritage hopes that your family history may, perhaps, help her in one of these projects detailed below.
CBA North business has continued in the background as before, with many more meetings and contacts though in digital and remote forms. Two members of the committee have chosen to end their terms; I thank them for their contributions over the years on your behalf. Meanwhile our numbers of CBA North members continue to grow through the course of this year as well as last, as CBA National-to-North and CBA North direct memberships. Welcome to each and all of our new members !
CBA North newsletter emails have, unfortunately, not appeared as much as I am sure anyone would desire. It would be good to hear more of member’s news and activities through our emails. Has anyone found any new skills, experience and knowledge from these unusual times? If so, what? For myself I have read many local articles, volumes and journals online, though I admit not all (but a good proportion have been) on the CBA North region, as well as attending a range of remote meetings and catching up on recordings of other events. Hopefully it will not been long before we are able to meet more on the ground, in the flesh and in the venues of lectures.
As ever I am keen to hear your thoughts for where you would like CBA North to go on your behalf and with you, your groups and contacts as feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. A few of you did when last I asked for comments; thank you for those and keep any comments coming in !
A number of events in the Festival of Archaeology listing have been developed in response to ‘asks’ and surveys of CBA North as well as the other CBA Regional Groups, and of CBA National, such as for diversifying audiences, digital event skills and how to start a career in archaeology. I am sure you will all find something of interest and/or use in this year’s activities whether digital or in-person wherever and whenever that may be. This year’s theme is Exploring Local Places and everyone will have one of those wherever they are.
CBA North Acting Chair and Secretary, 17.07.2021
CBA National News: a new president
Council for British Archaeology National (CBA) is pleased to announce the appointment of public archaeologist and broadcaster, Raksha Dave, as the new President of the organization with effect from 17 July 2021.
Raksha will begin her three-year Presidency by officially opening the Festival of Archaeology (17 July – 1 August), the UKs biggest annual celebration of archaeology, featuring two-weeks of activity and events encouraging young people to ‘Explore Local Places’ and find out about their local area and the people and communities lived there.
Field Archaeologist, Public Archaeologist and Broadcaster, Raksha, graduated from the UCL Institute of Archaeology in 1999 and has worked on some of the capital’s most iconic multi-period archaeological sites.
Raksha’s experience spans from prehistoric times to the Second World War. Raksha begun her broadcasting career with Channel 4’s Time Team in 2003; during her ten-year stint on the show, she excavated well over 100 sites including Westminster Abbey, Holyrood Palace, the D-Day defences and Normandy.
Raksha has since worked on a plethora of documentaries and primetime TV programmes, for example Digging for Britain(BBC4), Countdown to War (Channel 5), Tutankhamun with Dan Snow (Channel 5), The Great Plague (Channel 5), The Bone Detectives (Channel 4), Digging up Britain’s Past (Channel 5) and Pompeii’s Final Hours: New Evidence(Channel 5).
Raksha’s passion for community and the public is reflected in her heritage work when she developed and managed various National Lottery Heritage funded community projects, sat on the board of trustees for the Council for British Archaeology (London) and became an advocate and patron for the CBA’s Young Archaeologists’ Club.
In her new role as President for the Council for British Archaeology, Raksha will be keen to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved in archaeology. A long-term ambassador for inclusivity and diversity, Raksha said:
“I’m delighted to be appointed as the new President of the Council for British Archaeology, an organisation close to my heart. I have always had a passion for archaeology, and I am keen to make it accessible for young people. I’m particularly excited by the theme of this year’s festival, ’Exploring Local Places’, with hundreds of events delivered by community groups, heritage organisations and universities. We intend to encourage half a million people to engage in archaeology and explore stories of the places where they live and connect with the environment around them.
“It has always been my passion to breakdown elitist false impressions about archaeology. It is the study and discovery of minutia, debris and detritus of everyday lives of the communities of the past all around us. Discovering our collective past informs our present and for me, it is important that archaeology, the community, and the camaraderie is as accessible as possible. I am determined to develop this further and make it relevant for young people.”
Her next television project for Channel 5 explores a more-recent past and will reveal the aftermath of the tragic Boxing Day Indian Ocean tsunami that decimated the coastline and communities of Sumatra-Andaman in 2004. The programme explores the everyday lives, not of Pharaohs and Kings, but of the families and communities and tourists for whom it was home.
The Council for British Archaeology Executive Director, Neil Redfern, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Raksha as the new President of CBA. Her passion for the subject, her profile and her desire to encourage inclusion and participation across all ages and backgrounds to discover the joy of archaeology, is what is needed to help us realise our ambitions to promote archaeology and help care of the historic environment.
“As an educational charity working throughout the UK, Raksha will help us promote archaeology and how people can participate and get active. She is a recognisable to a growing audience of fans, from her work with the BBC Learning Zone to regular appearances on popular prime time television series, she is an amazing advocate and ambassador, actively inspiring organisations to broaden audience participation by encouraging innovation and inclusivity in their environments. We are delighted that she will be working with us and opening this year’s Festival of Archaeology.”
2021 Festival of Archaeology
This month sees the launch of the 2021 Festival of Archaeology – and what is more this starts today (or at least when the email was sent to you). This lasts until 1 August 2021. Like last year Covid-19 circumstances mean a number of changes, but with a mixture of physical events and virtual content online. In the CBA North region there is a mixture of physical events (you may need to book for these) and online.
The launch event can be found here. The usual directory to find events near you can be found at the specific Festival of Archaeology website pages with map and also directory pages to find what is of most interest to you.
Within the Festival, there are also more ‘applied’ events. These are part of the Festival, but it is hoped that the tips, pointers and discussions from them can be used onwards beyond the period of the Festival alone. They include;
– Creating Hidden Histories
– Diversifying audiences
– Digital event skills
– Early Careers (as part of the Student takeover day)
– Seeing Red: the menstrual hygiene movement in archaeology (on what volunteer community groups can do to provide improved hygiene and welfare facilities)
There are also a number of themed days – which include ‘takeover’ days – throughout the course of the Festival starting next week. These include;
Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Cumbria, in the CBA North region appears as part of the national youth events. This is part of the work co-ordinated by CBA National as part of the English Heritage Shout Out Loud project; information on how the 19th century textile industry shaped the natural environment around the mill and how nature, in turn, inspired fashion design features as Fashion and Place.
A range of other events are CBA events, CBA hosted events as well as other physical events are happening across the CBA North region and beyond. However all good things must come to end and a special event marks the closing event.
Apparch and the Pandemic
Martin Joyce, Chair of our group member Appleby Archaeology Group, writes of the digital activities and information carried out over the past year and a half or so by the group. He writes of the trials and tribulations of these unusual times;
‘Appleby Archaeology Group is a typical, small, local society holding monthly lectures during the winter months and fieldwork activities during the summer. Come the pandemic last year we held our last conventional lecture in March and laid plans to move online in April. As things panned out, this never actually happened as the lecturer himself fell ill. But in a way, this was no bad thing (though I doubt the lecturer would agree) as we were hopelessly unprepared at this point.
Summer activities in 2020 were largely cancelled. This was a great shame as we have a community project aimed at informing us about the early history of Appleby, something that has always been curiously obscure. Ambitious plans for training days and group excavation work had to be cancelled, but we did manage to deliver our first Zoom workshops – one on geophysical techniques and the other on test-pitting procedure.
A slide from the Test Pits workshop.
The latter workshop set up a procedural framework that enabled some of our enthusiasts to work independently, digging up their own back gardens in a professional manner.
DigAppleby in action in a garden somewhere in Appleby
However, there was no question that “lockdown” was hitting Apparch hard and things were getting very quiet. To maintain momentum we replaced our traditional quarterly newsletters by more frequent, colourfully punchier “Newslets” that came out at least once a month. We were quite successful in getting the memberships to contribute features to these. One side effect, however, was that, whereas in the past these were printed and then mailed, practical considerations meant that we were now exclusively online. We used Mailchimp to produce and distribute the Newslets and so members without email addresses were left behind. I still regret this.
By the Autumn, we had got ourselves much more organised. We had a Zoom account and a full programme of monthly lectures that eventually took us right through to April this year 2021. We were very fortunate to be able to recruit some very capable lecturers and many of the evenings were truly memorable. An unexpected benefit of online operation was that we were once again able to welcome members who had moved out of the area. Lecturers were also very pleased that they weren’t expected to drag themselves into Appleby on dank winter evenings. In fact, it started to dawn on me, that there was a serious opportunity for humble Apparch to punch well above its weight and host celebrity lecturers talking to an international audience! Well, we never achieved that, of course, but by the end of the lecture series, we were using Facebook to advertising our events widely and did indeed welcome viewers from both Europe and America.
We never charged for our online events – I hoped that our increased visibility might translate into new memberships. As it turned out, take-up was much less than I’d hoped, but I’m pleased to be able that membership numbers remain broadly unaffected by the pandemic.
Looking to the future, our committee is looking forward to seeing Apparch’s membership face to face again. But I’m not sure that things will ever be quite the same. We moved into online operation through force of circumstances, but now that we’ve seen the advantages some elements of the new arrangements are likely to continue. It’s possible, for example, that we might run a mixture of online and conventional lectures. Another possibility is that we might stream conventional lectures. But there have been so many twists and turns to our plans recently that I’m sure we’ll still be making it up as we go along for some time yet.
We’re just about to send a survey form around the membership to gauge their views about all of this’.
Edwardian Excavators at Corbridge
Many of us may have had or rather found occasion in recent months to have had a bit of a tidy of papers or a spring clean. Perhaps you have found material that will help for this project? Frances McIntosh of English Heritage writes;
‘Between 1906 and 1914, excavations at Corbridge uncovered the impressive remains of the most northerly town in Roman Britain. The names of the ‘archaeologists’ in charge are well known, however the actual hard labour was done by a team of anonymous men. We presume they are all local labourers drafted in, but would love to find out. Can you help us put names to the faces?’.
If you want to know more of can help Frances from even the picture above, then there is more to be found on the project’s as Faces of Corbridge project on the MicroPasts website. More on Corbridge Roman Town can be found through these English Heritage website pages.
A TAS round-up
The Teesside Archaeological Society has also adapted its activities and materials in these strange times. Maureen Norrie, Editor of their Bulletin, now details how another group has coped since 2020 across the varied work of the group;
‘COVID brought about some temporary changes in the activities of Teesside Archaeological Society (TAS). However, we’re pleased to say that, after the initial COVID-related disruption in 2020, which ended our planned programme of talks in the Central Library, Stockton on Tees, TAS was soon up and running again through the use of Zoom. This has attracted some regular new faces to our audience, including some from outside our usual area. We have also continued with our annual BULLETIN, although this has been – for the first time – provided electronically-only on our website in 2021.
To help people stay connected to heritage and to like-minded people in these difficult circumstances, TAS has temporarily suspended paid subscriptions. Instead, we are offering free virtual memberships with regular emails from TAS containing the link to our online lectures, plus other news and opportunities. Our online lectures continue to take place on our usual dates/time: generally, the last Tuesday of the month, at 7.30 pm. Online hosting has a cap on the number who can participate, so we can’t make these lectures open to the broader public.
‘Due to the ongoing uncertainty, it is our plan to continue with online Zoom talks for the remainder of 2021. So, subscribing (for free) is, for the time being, the only way you will be able to view TAS lectures. Virtual subscriber members will be invited to convert their membership to a paid subscription when we can revert to physical gatherings, but will be under no compulsion to do this. Virtual subscriber members can simply unsubscribe at that point. To join as a virtual subscriber-member, follow the links to ‘join’ on our website https://teesarchsoc.com or email us at teesarchsoc.news [at] gmail.com. Please replace [at] with [@] – we have to write it this way on here to avoid being spammed by bots! Attendee instructions are provided ahead of each lecture.
‘Our next talk (after our summer break) will be online on Tuesday 28 September 2021, 7.30pm – details of how to join are above.
‘In addition to our usual talks, we held a festive ‘Members’ Evening’ online at the end of December 2020. On this occasion, we invited anyone who wished to make a short ten-minute presentation on topics of interest to the society. This was a most successful evening: in addition to the talk by our guest speaker (Ben Westwood), we had short presentations from Spencer Carter (Cleveland Archaeology Trust Updates & Aspirations), Maureen Norrie (Researching family history online), Kira Charley (A Study of Witch Bottle Deposition), Callum Evans (Sacred space in Early Modern England), and Freya Horsfield (palaeo-environment of River Skerne carrlands).
‘BULLETIN is our annual journal provided to members since 1994. It covers the latest fieldwork activity and discoveries in the Tees Valley and catchment areas. This year (2021) we decided to make all the editions OPEN ACCESS, free to read and download as a PDF file. Future editions will also be in electronic format only so that we have more funds for projects and activities.
‘The BULLETIN’s from 1994 to 2021are available by visiting our website https://teesarchsoc.com and following the links to ‘Publications’. If you wish to download the PDF file, there is a ‘Download PDF’ link beside each issue. After clicking on the “Download PDF” link there is a “download” option behind “…” on the white sidebar column on the far-right side of your browser window. This might vary a little bit depending on what computer device and browser you use.
‘The 2021 issue includes articles on: Archaeological works at Saltholme, Cowpen Bewley, 2019; The use of pXRF analysis for identification of salt on Neolithic ceramics, Street House, Loftus; Jumbo Jar (or, a large piece of pottery), Site 251, Ingleby Arncliffe; What is so interesting about rusty iron slag?; Saxon pottery found at Howe Hill, near Stokesley; Facing the water – the orientation of early Roman fortifications in Scotland; To plough or not to plough- the effect of ploughing on the barrows of East Yorkshire; The Environment Agency – innovation in Heritage, Interpretation and Public Art; Milling about at Marske Mill, Skelton Mill, and Bilsdale; An Archaeologist’s experiences of 2020.
‘Enjoy reading these, and the earlier issues! The BULLETIN includes a short guide for contributors. If you are interested in submitting an article for the 2022 issue (publication early 2022), please contact the editor Maureen Norrie by email at email@example.com. Many thanks are due to Spencer Carter for making all the BULLETIN’s open access (his work in doing this is much appreciated).
We are now beginning to consider other activities, involving members – these are in the early stages, watch this space!’
If you would like to submit something to our next CBA North news email, please feel free to do so ! Regardless of Covid, it is a fact that editors can only work with what they are sent. If you would like to submit something, please send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org !