The biennial British Archaeological Awards are the most prestigious awards in British archaeology. Since their foundation in 1976, they have grown till they now encompass 12 awards covering every aspect of British archaeology.
BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGICAL AWARDS 2000
EDINBURGH CASTLE, 16 NOVEMBER, 2000
The presentation of the British Archaeological Awards in 2000 took place in the historic setting of the Great Hall, Edinburgh Castle on Thursday 16th November. A large and distinguished audience was welcomed by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. The Awards were presented by HRH Prince El Hassan of Jordan, Patron of the Council for British Research in the Levant.
The biennial British Archaeological Awards are the most prestigious awards in British archaeology. Since their foundation in 1976, they have grown till they encompass 12 Awards covering every aspect of British archaeology. The Awards include the Channel Four Awards, ICI Award, Spear & Jackson ‘Silver Trowel’, Tarmac Finders Award, Transco Press Award, Virgin Holidays Award, Wedgwood Sponsorship Award, Archaeological Book Award sponsored by the Ancient & Medieval History Book Club and the Pitt Rivers Award for the best project by volunteers sponsored by the Robert Kiln Trust.
Professor David Breeze, Chairman of the British Archaeological Awards, commented: ‘The range of nominations is even higher than in previous years showing the excellent work being undertaken in archaeology in Britain today. We are delighted through the Awards to acknowledge the help we have received from many others, not only our sponsors but also to those who report on archaeology in the press and on television and members of the public who have reported discoveries of archaeological artefacts or sites. To all of these, archaeologists owe a great debt of gratitude.’
THE YOUNG ARCHAEOLOGISTS’ CLUB AWARD
The Young Archaeologist of the Year Award is supported by Yorkshire Bank Plc. Each year the Young Archaeologists’ Club, part of the Council for British Archaeology, has a competition to encourage the archaeologists of the future.
In keeping with the ‘Millennium fever’ which has swept the country over the last year, the task for the Young Archaeologist of the Year Award 2000 was to design a time capsule that would represent life in the year 2000. Five items were to be included in the capsule, and they had to fit in a space 30 x 15 x 15 cm. The entrants were also asked to include an explanation of why they had chosen those particular items in not more than 150 words.
The entries were judged in two age groups, both of which were of a high standard.
The winner in the 9-12 year old category is Jonathan Davis from Oldham.
Jonathan’s entry was very colourful and bright and really stood out. His five items included magazine cuttings; British Millennium coins, a very good idea which dates the capsule; an ‘Index’ catalogue, which shows a good cross section of the kinds of items that people were buying at the time the capsule was buried. In fact, we could say that it’s almost the modern equivalent of the burying of people with their belongings! His inclusion of food labels is also paralleled by the ancient practice of including food in burials for use in the afterlife. A CD-ROM of a virtual tour of Britain, also shows foresight, just in case the monuments themselves disappear over the next 100 or 1000 years.
The winner of the 13-16 year old category is Charlotte Bold from Wigan.
Charlotte had obviously thought about what archaeologists want to know when excavating, and then considered ways in which to achieve this in the limited space available. The use of material for dating, both coins and newspapers, was good. The inclusion of multi-media resources was a brilliant idea, especially a video diary – I’m sure all archaeologists would love to find one of those during an excavation! Music CDs within the capsule would allow the archaeologists of the future to hear and maybe even recreate the sounds of the late twentieth century, perhaps not such a good idea! Numerous pictures, for they don’t take up much space, were also included in the capsule and were used to illustrate the development of archaeology!
THE TARMAC FINDERS AWARD
The Finders Award, sponsored by the Tarmac Group, is for the best non-archaeologist who – within the last four years – exercising intelligent alertness in the course of his/her normal, non-archaeological employment, finds archaeological artefacts/remains and causes them to be reported to the appropriate authorities.
- Steve Bolger (Byzantine bucket, Fordingbridge, Hampshire)
- Richard Heath (Wall paintings, Bagshot, Surrey)
- Phil Shepherd (Prehistoric lithic finds, South Wales)
The judges were unanimous in their decision that the winner of the Finders Award should be Mr Phil Shepherd of Treorchy, South Wales for his recovery and reporting of prehistoric lithic artefacts during the course of his work for Forest Enterprise Wales (Menter Coedwigaeth Cymru). Most of the finds have come from plantations in the Rhondda area of the South Wales valleys, but more recently he has been reporting finds from plantations further to the west near Maesteg and Margam. He has spent not only the last four years but the past 25 years, as a forestry worker and, whilst planting and felling trees, has systematically examined the disturbed ground from humanly-struck flints. He has recorded the precise location of all his find and reported them regularly to the National Museum of Wales. With the landowner’s permission, he has then donated most of his finds to the Museum. His finds, mostly mesolithic material, but also including several notable later prehistoric discoveries, such as a hoard of early Bronze Age flint scrapers and a neolithic single-piece sickle, have added significantly to our knowledge of settlement and subsistence patterns of the post-glacial period in South Wales. His largely unglamorous work has made a long-term, cumulative contribution to knowledge through patient and painstaking fieldwork; it is a model for the reporting of finds. Phil’s enthusiasm and work have also contributed to a number of other important projects, for example Forest Enterprise’s Welsh Heritage Assets Project to improve public access to sites and enhance the understanding of the history of the national forests in Wales.
THE WEDGWOOD SPONSORSHIP AWARD
Sponsored by Wedgwood for the best private sector sponsorship of archaeology by an individual, company, organization or charity in the United Kingdom.
- Anglian Water (Flag Fen Bronze Age Excavations)
- BAe Systems (Valley of the First Iron Masters)
- National Power (Wood Hall Moated Manor)
- Tarbat Historic Trust (Tarbat Discovery Centre)
As in previous years, a large crop of very high nominations and entries from many parts of Britain were received for this award. The Judging Panel was faced with the difficult task of comparing the relative merits of each. In making their decision they were looking for imaginative approaches to the archaeology involved, or the way it was studied or presented, and especially to the overall benefits to archaeology and the public that resulted from the sponsorship.
This year’s winners of the Wedgwood Sponsorship Award comes from the East Riding of Yorkshire. The archaeological side involves the investigation of many sites of many different dates, over a long period of time, under the direction of Peter Halkon and Martin Millett in the Foulness Valley. Highlights include the work on the Hasholme logboat, and the investigation of early slagheaps around Welham Bridge. As a result both the area itself, and the project associated with it, has been called the ‘Valley of the First Iron Masters’. A number of organizations supported the project, but one of the most significant contributors was BAe Systems (British Aerospace as they used to be known) and they are the winners of the Wedgwood Sponsorship Award. They have made possible a number of popular and academic publications, provided help with audio-visual systems, provided a designer to work on leaflets and displays and provided high quality display stands. The Panel was especially impressed by the way that the sponsorship related to education and community involvement with their environment. In many instances this meant bringing archaeology into the classrooms of local schools. Some of the publications certainly deserve wide circulation, while the importance of the Foulness Valley in the early development of the iron industry in Britain is something that, as a result, will no doubt creep into textbooks and works on the subject over the next few years.
THE HERITAGE IN BRITAIN AWARD
The Heritage in Britain Award sponsored by English Heritage, Historic Scotland and Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments is for the best project securing the long term preservation of a site or monument.
- Cosmeston Medieval Village, Vale of Glamorgan
- Garrick’s Temple, Hampton (Donald Insall Associates)
- New Hall (Pontefract and District Archaeological Society)
- Roman Town House, Dorchester (John Stark & Crickmay Partnership)
- Segedunum Roman Fort (Tyne and Wear Museums)
Hadrian’s Wall is a World Heritage Site and deservedly so. It is the impressive central sector, with its excellent preservation and high visibility, which this designation brings to mind. Once one approaches the major conurbation of Newcastle to the east, however, the Wall line and its ancillary monuments are soon lost, both physically and perceptually. Yet hidden beneath the serried ranks of terraced houses for the shipyard workers of north Tyneside, the archaeological traces of Wallsend, as its modern name indicates, the terminal fort on the Wall, were surprisingly well preserved.
Excavation in the 1970s and early 1980s uncovered the whole of the interior of Wallsend, the Roman Segedunum, but early attempts to display it to the public were unsuccessful, despite the best efforts of local volunteers. The site suffered as a result both of the local economic downturn and the limited scale of the presentation exercise, but the local authority, North Tyneside Council, and Tyne & Wear Museums did not give up. After the successful reconstruction of a length of Hadrian’s Wall to the west of the fort, the Council commissioned a detailed study of the potential of the site, carried out by Tyne & Wear Museums Archaeology Department, and then followed through its recommendations. Significant funding was obtained from a wide variety of sources, including the Heritage Lottery Fund, The European Regional Development Fund, North Tyneside City Challenge, Northumbrian Water Kick Start Fund, Bellway Homes and English Heritage. This allowed not only the building of an attractive new museum, but the re-excavation of the remains of the fort for display, in the course of which important new discoveries were made. In addition, a full size reconstruction of a functioning bath building was constructed beyond the fort walls. Incorporated in the design of the museum is an innovatory 34 metre high viewing platform. This is an essential requirement if the visitor is to get an overall impression of the layout of the fort, since its buildings area preserved largely only by their foundations, and gain an appreciation of its wider setting. Segedunum Roman Fort has already attracted more than 35,000 visitors since opening in mid June, ahead of predictions.
A number of aspects of the project particularly impressed the judges:
- The perseverance and determination shown to see the project through to a satisfactory conclusion over a number of years, despite setbacks.
- The energy and resourcefulness in obtaining funding from so many different sources.
- The vision in recognising the need, and putting into place the means, by which remains lacking immediate visual impact could best be appreciated by the general public.
- Finally, the investment in local social and economic regeneration in an economically depressed inner city area.
Thus the efforts of Tyne & Wear Museums will ensure the long time preservation of the remains of the fort at Wallsend and, hopefully, attract many visitors to the site and its museum. The judges wish the project well and in recognition of the efforts of Tyne & Wear Museums are delighted to pronounce them winners of the Heritage in Britain Award for 2000.
THE AIA IRONBRIDGE AWARD
Sponsored by the Association of Industrial Archaeology, the Award is for the best project involving the innovative, adaptive re-use of any historic building or structure.
- Mill No 1, New Lanark (New Lanark Conservation Trust)
- Shepherdess Walk, London (Buschow Henley Architects)
- Stanley Mills (Phoenix Trust)
It is now generally recognised that archaeology no longer confines its interest to finds and structures below ground, and that the built environment constitutes an important part of the archaeological resource. Buildings of many periods speak to the present generation about the lives, skills and aspirations of past civilisations and previous generations. The built environment provides a document of incredible richness for those who have learned how to read it. The Ironbridge Award brings this sense of buildings as archaeology into the fold of archaeological practice recognised by the British Archaeological Awards.
The Award is presented for the adaptive re-use of a building of any type or period which, in the opinion of the judges, best retains the architectural and structural character of the building’s former use, whilst providing a new and economically sustainable future. In considering projects, the judges are looking for adaptive re-use solutions for ‘difficult’ buildings, buildings which because of their structural form or perhaps because of the hardships they have undergone and damage which they have suffered, present abnormal challenges to those who wish to ensure the survival of their contribution to landscape and community.
The Judging Panel considered two mill complexes in Scotland among the finalists. By a narrow margin the Panel chose New Lanark, famous both for its site and for the utopian experiments of Robert Owen, as the winner. Founded by Arkwright and David Dale in 1785, the first mill was operating by 1786, burned down in 1788 and rebuilt again the following year. By 1793 three more mills had been added and the complex was the largest in the world. The first mill, the North Mill or Mill No 1, was a fine example of Arkwright’s classic design, six storeys with three waterwheels and a characteristic Venetian-windowed projecting stair tower. By the early 20th century it was ‘out of repair’ and in 1946 the upper two storeys were demolished on safety grounds. From 1968 to 1983 the mill was used by a scrap metal company and suffered further damage. By the mid-1970s it was in serious danger of collapse.
Adaptive re-use has in this case rescued a building of great historical and architectural merit from the brink of disaster. The New Lanark Conservation Trust has drawn together funding from several sources to consolidate the building and restore the upper storeys in a faithful replica of the original form. Its new use is as a high quality hotel, retaining some of the large floor spaces and some of the structural components. Its economic viability already produces an income stream to support the work of the Conservation Trust in other parts of New Lanark village. In forming a partnership with a local college for training in catering skills it happily reflects Robert Owen’s educational principles. The restoration and re-use of Mill No 1 is perhaps the crowning glory of New Lanark Conservation Trust’s work in a quarter century of achievement. It is a worthy recipient of the Ironbridge Award in this Millennium year.
THE VIRGIN HOLIDAYS AWARD
Sponsored by Virgin Holidays Limited, the Award is for the best presentation of an archaeological project or theme to the public, thus stimulating awareness of, and curiosity about, our National Heritage.
- Dover Bronze Age Boat Gallery
- Rushen Abbey, Manx National Heritage
- Portable Antiquities Recording Scheme
- Turning the Tide, Durham Coast
There were 18 entries, the highest in the history of the Award, demonstrating the growing importance of presenting archaeological projects to an increasingly informed and discerning public. The range of the entries was wide, dealing with a cross section of evidence from the historic environment, and the quality of the individual projects was very high, making the judges’ task a difficult though interesting task.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme to promote the voluntary reporting of archaeological finds made by members of the public in England and Wales is the winner of the Virgin Holidays Award, acknowledging the achievements of the pilot projects in raising awareness of, and curiosity about, the National Heritage and for its vision in extending the results of its work to a wider audience.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme had its origins in the Treasure Act 1996, the first piece of portable antiquities legislation ever passed in England and Wales. The scheme operates under the aegis of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport with financial support from DCMS, British Museum and Heritage Lottery Fund and many local partners. In September 1997, six pilot projects were established to promote voluntary reporting of all finds, which did not fall within the purview of the Act. In its second year the Scheme was extended to cover over half of England and the whole of Wales. The results of the first two years of the scheme are impressive, 13,500 archaeological objects in its first year and 20,698 in its second year were recorded for public benefit, and demonstrated that a voluntary approach could be successful.
The Scheme has been committed to raising public awareness about the archaeological heritage. It has shown that it has a great potential in increasing opportunities for active public involvement in archaeology, particularly in making data available to Sites and Monuments Records, and in breaking down barriers between archaeologists and metal detector users and other finders.
The Scheme uses a variety of effective communication approaches to the general public. The Portable Antiquities website, launched in March 1999 recorded over a quarter of a million hits in its first eleven months. The web site is to be integrated into the National Grid for Learning and thus will be effective in developing teaching resources for schools education and making the finds of the local area available to a range of audiences thereby enhancing life-long learning. It will also be invaluable to courses in further and higher education.
More direct and personal contact with the general public has been undertaken by the finds liaison officers. Their outreach activities are also targeted on a range of audiences through giving talks at metal detecting clubs and local archaeological societies, holding finds identification days for members of the public, organising museum displays of recent finds made by members of the public, day schools and other events. National and regional newsletters attractively highlight successful practice through case studies, thereby informing the public of processes and extending archaeological knowledge. The Scheme also provides attractively-produced and highly informative ‘Annual Reports’, which are a ‘must-read’ for institutions, metal detectorists and the public alike.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme, through promoting a culture of making finds available for active recording on a systematic basis for public benefit, is creating a permanent record for the use of archaeologists and the wider public. Future developments, funding permitting, will be based on partnership between 67 national and local museums and archaeological bodies to extend the scheme to the whole of England and Wales.
The Portable Antiquities Schemes has demonstrated a potential to change public attitudes to archaeology through careful research, effective dissemination of the results and a programme of raising public awareness to the importance of archaeological finds and their meaning.
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL BOOK AWARD
Sponsored by The Ancient & Medieval History Book Club, the Award recognizes the most outstanding book which brings British archaeology to the widest audience.
- Richard Bradley, An Archaeology of Natural Places (Routledge)
- Guy de la Bédoyère, The Golden Age of Roman Britain (Tempus)
- Martin Carver, Sutton Hoo (British Museum)
- Ian Stead, The Salisbury Hoard (Tempus)
- Peter Yeomen, Pilgrimage in Medieval Scotland (Batsford/Historic Scotland)
The shortlist of 12 books emphasised the great range of books published in British archaeology today. Choosing a winner was difficult, and five books were considered as finalists. In An Archaeology of Natural Places (published by Routledge), Richard Bradley invented a whole new area of archaeology, elegantly presented. In The Golden Age of Roman Britain (Tempus) Guy de la Bédoyère had a fantastic theme, emphasising the richness of fourth century Britain, which he explores with his customary enthusiasm. And then in Sutton Hoo (British Museum Publishers), Martin Carver tells the story of the excavation of one of our great national monuments, weaving into it the Gotterdamerung of the old pagan gods.
In all the best awards there is a ‘sleeper’ – a book that suddenly emerges, when all the judges admit that individually they enjoyed reading it and were surprised to find the other judges rated it highly too. Such a book is Pilgrimage in Medieval Scotland, by Peter Yeoman, published by Batsford in conjunction with Historic Scotland. Pilgrimage was one of the key concepts of the Middle Ages. It was highly susceptible to fashion, and by showing how these fashions fluctuated between the different shrines in Scotland, Peter Yeoman has produced a book which the judges warmly commended as the runner-up.
The winner is one of the great archaeological detective stories of all time. In The Salisbury Hoard, Ian Stead describes how he tracked down this hoard discovered by metal detectorists and illegally dispersed. It is a good story brilliantly told. But like all good stories, it also points a moral; firstly, about the questions of treasure, and why it should be reported, and how the common law of England branded the finders as thieves and finally brought them to justice. And secondly it demonstrates why a hoard should be kept together, for this hoard of over 500 bronzes dates from the Early Bronze Age to the Middle Iron Age, and must have been assembled by what can only be described as an Iron Age ‘archaeologist’; now this hoard is recognised, similar hoards can be recognised in other parts of the country. Ian Stead was not only the Sherlock Holmes in this amazing story, but has also been the Arthur Conan Doyle too, writing it up in a gripping read of which both these masters would have been proud; he is the very worthy winner of the Archaeological Book of the Year Award.
THE TRANSCO PRESS AWARD
Sponsored by Transco, the Award is given for the best reporting – newspaper or magazine article or radio feature – on an archaeological theme in the United Kingdom.
One of the aims of the British Archaeological Awards is to raise public awareness of archaeology. We are grateful that this is acknowledged also by Transco who sponsor the Press Award for the best reporting of archaeology.
There are, of course, different ways to report archaeology: in books, learned journals, and the new range of cultural resource management journals, on radio and television and in newspapers and magazines. This Award has traditionally focused on reporting in newspapers.
We are delighted this year to make the award to the Guardian and their reporters Mike Pitts and Maev Kennedy for the consistent high standard of articles which appear in that paper. It is good to see archaeology being so highly recognised as to be so frequently the lead story in the Guardian supplements, with the range encompassing all periods in Britain and abroad on land and under the sea.
THE CHANNEL FOUR AWARDS
Sponsored by Channel Four Television for the best made film, video and ICT presentation on an archaeological subject.
This year the Channel Four Awards are divided into three categories. An Award for an ICT presentation has been added to the broadcast and non-broadcast film and video categories which have been offered previously.
In the broadcast category the judges reviewed 16 entries and saw a wide range of items originally broadcast on a terrestrial channel. The winner in this category is Blood Red Roses (Granada Television for Channel 4, Secrets of the Dead series). It was the best of several offerings which placed an emphasis on scientific and particularly forensic techniques – in this case to reconstruct the fate of a group of those killed at the Battle of Towton in 1461. This has the dubious distinction of being the bloodiest battle fought on English soil and the film made it very clear that this was no idle claim. Not a film for those who combine TV with supper, therefore, but a worthy winner.
NON BROADCAST CATEGORY
The non-broadcast category is always very diffuse and can include everything from a film meant for showing in a particular museum gallery to something produced by a national organisation for general distribution. This year was no exception and from 12 entries, the winner is a film about a man who has spent a lifetime collecting the detritus of the Sheffield hand-made tool and instrument industry, “You’ll not be wanting this then, will you?” Ken Hawley: a Collector’s Tale (Sheffield University Learning Media Unit). The resulting film is a piece of archaeological evidence in its own right and both technically and in terms of its subject matter worthy of a wide audience.
This year it has been possible to add a third award category, for Information and Communication Technology (or ICT) based projects. We thank Channel 4 for having the vision to recognise the important contribution that the new media has to offer in disseminating archaeology to the wider public. Like the video categories, we received a diverse range of entrants, including broadcasters, government agencies, local authorities and museums, and dedicated amateurs. Thirteen entries were received, including both CD and web based products, ranging from those designed to be used within specific museum exhibits, educational packages to be used in schools, and the more widely accessible web sites.
The winner in this category, comes from the BBC’s History and Archaeology web site, and is the interactive ‘Hunt the Ancestor Game’. In this game, the user is placed in the role of the archaeologist, and has to follow through all necessary steps in researching and executing an excavation, being confronted by all the real life decisions that archaeologists have to take whilst exploring the past. Given a fixed budget, the user has to go through all the relevant background information, including aerial photographs and sites and monuments records, before deciding where to start digging for those elusive ancestral remains. The package is well designed graphically, and the ‘game play’ is very engaging. This winning entry represents a real cutting edge example of the kind of meaningful and educational interaction that can now be achieved by the skilled web developer.
THE ICI AWARD
Sponsored by ICI Corporate Real Estate, the Award is for the best archaeological project offering a major contribution to Knowledge.
- Dover Bronze Age Boat Project
- Excavations at Spitalfields, London
- The Roman Mosaics of Britain
- Shapwick Project, Somerset
Ten entries were received for the ICI Award reflecting the current high standards of archaeological work in Britain. Half of the entries involved the study of large areas of rural and urban landscape, highlighting to a certain extent, the economic pressures that are the reality of life in archaeology today. A number of the entries showed the benefits of interweaving into the tapestry of archaeology, other scientific specialisms, such as botany, dendrochronology, geology and DNA analysis. Some of the entries demonstrated methodological innovation, indicating a healthy period of positive change in the practice of the subject. The value of archaeological investigation as an historical tool was repeatedly demonstrated by the quantity and quality of finds recovered in many of the projects. Fascinating details of everyday life, unavailable by any other method of study, are being retrieved for us by archaeology.
After much deliberation the Judging Panel agreed a short list of four entries. Of these, the winner is The Dover Bronze Age Boat Project. This provided exciting evidence of the world’s oldest seagoing boat. Although it was found more than four years ago, after the excavation and recovery, the work has continued to study, preserve and display this remarkable discovery and the project represents a continuing commitment by the Dover Bronze Age Boat Trust. While other sites may be very interesting and informative there is something very special about such a unique discovery and the judges have decided that the Dover Boat has it by several lengths!
THE PITT RIVERS AWARD
Sponsored by the Robert Kiln Trust for the best project by a voluntary body or individual.
- Martin Green, Monkton Up Wimborne
- Scarborough Archaeological and Historical Society, Medieval Scarborough
- Pontefract and District Archaeological Society, St Aiden’s Sunken Ships Project
- Wareham and District Archaeology and Local History Society, Bestwall Quarry Project
The ten entries submitted were all of a very high standard. The approach by the entrants and the subjects covered again reflects the health of independent archaeology in Britain, at a time when the discipline as a whole is undergoing great change.
There was one submission, however, that has caught the imagination of the archaeological world for its unique subject and the dedication of the volunteers. Both amateur and professional archaeologists in their spare time, braved black mud, to the point when on occasions all you could see were the whites of their eyes, to explore the St. Aiden’s sunken ships.
In March 1998 the River Aire burst its banks and flooded the St Aiden’s open cast coal- mine, creating havoc in the local waterways and almost closing down a power station. As part of the scheme to save the mine, the water was diverted from the original bed and the adjacent canal allowing RJB Mining Company to extract coal from under the site. The local archaeological society with the full co-operation of the Company seized the opportunity to carry out a rescue excavation, which gave a unique insight into river navigation and trade during the eighteenth century. Excavation revealed four substantially intact hulls and fragments of at least six others. Also found were an eighteenth century boat-yard, a late seventeenth century lock and a weir that had been in use since medieval times. Considerable quantities of pottery and other artefacts were found scattered along the watercourses, helping to build up the picture. Everything was recorded in situ. and where practical, photographs taken. Publication of the site at academic and popular level is proposed and fund raising is now a priority.
For an opportunist excavation well executed and recorded the Pitt Rivers Award goes to the Pontefract & District Archaeological Society represented by Eric Houlder.
GRAHAM WEBSTER LAURELS
The late Robert Kiln made provision for a discretionary award for a submission that has a special educational value. We believe we have one this year that more than qualifies. An air of excitement is growing in prehistoric circles about the work being carried out in the area of Cranborne Chase on the borders of Dorset and Wiltshire. New aerial photography is revealing many sites in an area already rich in archaeology. When these are compared with older collections, it is becoming apparent that some are new type-sites previously unrecognised. A farmer, who lives in the area, provides us with an excellent example. Following a geophysical survey he stripped a large area revealing a most unusual pit circle ‘hengiform’, consisting of fourteen small pits surrounding a large central pit ten metres in diameter. Excavation of the site showed it belonged to the Neolithic. The excavation featured in the BBC’s Meet the Ancestors programme and tests, paid for by the BBC, found that the skeletons, found in a shaft dug into the central pit, were of a mother and young daughter, together with two other children, probably a brother and sister. Tooth enamel analysis proved they could not have been brought up in the local chalk area. Almost as an afterthought, a Bronze Age skeleton was laid out in what was probably seen, 1800 years later, to be a depression in the centre of the monument and covered with a cairn of stones.
This work is just part of an ongoing project and students from a number of universities regularly visit the farm to study his results and the artefacts in his remarkably fine collection kept in a museum on the farm.
For an excellent excavation and a major contribution to our knowledge of the Neolithic, the Graham Webster Laurels go to the winner of the Pitt Rivers award in 1992, Martin Green.
THE SILVER TROWEL AWARD
Sponsored by Spear & Jackson for the Greatest iniaitive in archaeology.
The highest award that we offer is the Silver Trowel sponsored by Spear & Jackson. I would have to say as chairman of the judging panel that it always provides considerable anguish to those who have to choose between a range of excellent projects and candidates. These include amateur and professional archaeologists, major projects and good ideas. The Award is for the greatest initiative in archaeology.
Metal detecting, and the realisation that thousands of finds are going unrecorded each year, has been an issue and concern for archaeologists for more than twenty-five years. Responsible detecting and the prompt reporting of finds can transform our understanding of the archaeology of an area and can enrich everybody’s enjoyment of our past. Irresponsible detecting, where objects are torn from their relationship to surrounding features and are kept from the public domain, represents a huge loss – not just to archaeologists, but to all who are interested in our past, including future generations.
Relationships between archaeologists and metal detectorists have, to put it mildly, had their ups and downs over the years, but thanks to several developments, there is now a growing willingness to work together. Foremost among these developments has been the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s Portable Antiquities Scheme – the winner of the Virgin Holidays Award. Amongst the many excellent initiatives encompassed by this scheme is the encouragement of metal detectorists to voluntarily report their discoveries. The Finds Liaison Officers, working with the National Council for Metal detecting, are developing growing links with metal detecting clubs and individual detectorists to ensure that finds are reported and recorded and that the information about them is widely disseminated for the benefit of the wider community.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme has demonstrated a potential to change public attitudes to archaeology through careful research, effective dissemination of the results and a programme of raising public awareness to the importance of archaeological finds and their meaning. Dr Roger Bland, Department for Culture, Media and Sport received the Spear & Jackson Silver Trowel on behalf of the Portable Antiquities Scheme.