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 2006
The Custard Factory, Birmingham
The Tarmac Finder’s Award
For the person who, during the course of his/her routine, non-archaeological employment or activity, accidentally chances upon archaeological artefacts or remains and reports them promptly and properly. The Finders Award is sponsored by the Tarmac Group.
Two of the entries this related to finds of either regional or national significance, and where the individuals involved went out of their way in reporting their discoveries to the appropriate archaeological authorities and then liaising fully whilst arrangements were made for subsequent archaeological investigations.
We are awarding a ‘highly commended’ certificate to Douglas (‘Duggie’) Dugdale in recognition of his reporting – and saving – a truly remarkable find. Between May 2005 and April 2006 a major archaeological investigation was carried out at Princesshay in central Exeter ahead of the construction of a new shopping centre. By March 2006 the main excavations had finished and work by Exeter Archaeology had been scaled down to a watching brief on service and foundation trenches. One Saturday morning, Mr Dugdale, a groundworks gangerman for P.C. Harrington was working in an area that was being reduced by machine to form a basement, well below the level of archaeological deposits. The works in this area had been monitored throughout the previous week and the ground had appeared to be archaeologically sterile. However, at the edge of the dig Duggie noticed that the machine had disturbed a number of potsherds. He called a halt to any further machine work in that particular area, and informed the archaeological team. It soon became clear that the pottery had come from the fill of a medieval well, which had been clipped by the machine. The well was excavated and was found to be packed with jugs dating to the early to mid-15th century. This group is by far the best recovered ceramic assemblage of the period from the whole of South West Britain.
The judges were unanimous in their decision that the winners of the Tarmac Finder’s Award 2006 should be Mike Chambers, Bob Mutch and Paul Durbridge for alerting archaeologists to the important discoveries of lower palaeolithic flintwork and animal bones at Happisburgh and Pakefield on the Norfolk-Suffolk coast that were announced publically earlier this year.
Mike Chambers was walking his dog on the beach at Happisburgh in north-east Norfolk. He paused to examine an area of a black mud that had been exposed on the lower foreshore by an exceptionally low tide, and noticed an almost straight edge of flint protruding a few millimetres from the mud. He dug down to see what it was, and retrieved what he realised was an almost complete ovate handaxe in mint condition made of glossy black flint. He took his find to the Cromer Museum, from where it was forwarded to Peter Robins at the Norwich Castle Museum. He had recorded sufficient information on the enquiry form to show that, unlike previous examples brought in from this and neighbouring beaches, this was a genuine in situ find. Subsequently, a range of fieldwork has been undertaken by staff at Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and Royal Holloway College, University of London with cut marks showing that they were contemporary with the flint artefacts. The handaxe found by Mike Chambers is now on permanent display at the Time and Tide Museum, Great Yarmouth and thanks to his actions we now know that it is earlier than the earliest Anglian glaciation, that is more than 450,000 old.
Meanwhile, further south at Pakefield in Suffolk, Bob Mutch and Paul Durbridge had discovered animal bones and flint artefacts from similar deposits. Paul Durbridge sent a flake to the Natural History Museum, prompting further work when more flints and samples were retrieved which, when sieved, produced flint microdebitage and microscopic mammal bones, including a species of vole known to have died out around 700,000 years ago.
What is extraordinary about these finds, deliberately not publicised at the time of discovery to allow thorough archaeological and palaeoenvironmental investigations to take place, is that they were made along an 80 km coastline which effectively forms one large, intermittent archaeological site where people had searched for two centuries and yet had not found undisputed in situ humanly-struck flintwork. These discoveries have proved to be the oldest known evidence for human occupation not only in Britain but also in the whole of northern Europe with the advanced handaxe technology, predating the previously-discovered remains of what had been considered to be the first humans in northern Europe by 200,000 years.
The Young Archaeologist of the Year Award
The Young Archaeologist of the Year Award is organised by the nationwide Young Archaeologists’ Club and aims to engage young people in archaeology, and get them to consider how it is presented to the public. The 2006 Award has been supported by English Heritage and the National Trust, and prizes have been supplied by the British Museum Press, Spear & Jackson, Templar Publishing and York Archaeological Trust.
This year, the award was themed around Buildings Archaeology. The challenge was to undertake an archaeological investigation of a local building and produce a detailed and illustrated report or website about it.
There was no restriction regarding the age or type of building, and this was reflected in the wonderful range of structures that were chosen. These included:
- the London Eye, Jedburgh Castle Jail, the Globe theatre, St James’s Park (home of Newcastle United football team)
- windmills and watermills, houses and cottages of all ages, shapes and sizes,
- churches and cathedrals, a castle, schools, a working men’s club, a freemasons hall,
- an aircraft hanger, a Second World War gun emplacement,
- and a purpose-built former Natwest bank, which not only changed use (becoming Send & Ripley History Society’s museum) but also location when it was physically moved on the back of a low-loader!
The Young Archaeologist of the Year Award is judged in three categories: a schools and groups category and two individual age group categories for budding archaeologists aged 8-12 and 13-16.
John Walker, chief executive of York Archaeological Trust, judged the schools and groups category. Four groups were shortlisted:
- Dunottar School from Surrey, for their investigation of one of their school buildings;
- North Wiltshire YAC branch, for their report on the Type 28A Anti-Tank Gun Emplacement at Lydiard Green;
- Christian Malford Primary School from Gloucestershire, for their information booklet about their school; and
- Llandaff Cathedral school in Cardiff for their website exploring the history of their school building.
Mr Walker found it incredibly difficult to decide between the entries due to the fabulous quality, presentation and enthusiasm that was evident in them all.
However, the winners, for their thorough investigation of their school, are Amber Class from Christian Malford Primary School in Gloucestershire. Unfortunately the class cannot be with us today, but they will receive their Award at a special day at a National Trust property later in the month.
Seven entries were shortlisted in the 8-12 age group category, which was judged by BBC TV presenter Dan Snow.
- Annie Hamilton aged 9 from Manchester produced a report about her house that was, according to Dan,
a real pleasure to read
- 10-year-old Rachel Dunn from Nottingham studied the Stapleford Baptist Church. Dan said her report was
an excellent piece of detective work
- Nadia Morris aged 9 from Cornwall wrote a study of a terrace of Cornish cottages, which Dan said was
lively and very engagingly written
- 9-year-old Jocelyn Lee from Surrey wrote about his house. He
communicated the excitement very well, said Dan
- Lucy Seviour aged 11 from Hampshire wrote about Winchester City mill. Dan commented that her work was
particularly strong on the interesting history of the building
- 10-year-old Charles Veasey from Dorset undertook ‘great detective work looking for lost parts of the buildings’ according to Dan Snow, whilst exploring his home at Rectory Farm.
These six entries have been highly commended.
The winner in the 8-12 age group is 12-year-old Rachel Taylor from Cambridge. Rachel produced an excellent report about Morley Memorial Primary School. Dan Snow praised her entry saying:
I admired Rachel’s interest in a building that so many in her community take for granted. It made me want to get back and have a good look around my primary school. I was also very impressed with the range of sources that she had used: ex-pupils, newspaper cuttings and old maps. Also, I enjoyed what linked the school to society. Linking the growth of the school to the explosion in birth rates after World War Two is a very good example of archaeology providing solid evidence to build a more complete picture of the past.
Kirsty Wark, presenter of BBC TV’s Newsnight, was the judge in the 13-16 age group. There were five shortlisted entries:
- 14-year-old Joseph Thorne from Cardiff, whose thorough investigation of the history of a Welsh miner’s cottage was called
very impressiveby Kirsty
- Heather Berry aged 15 from Shropshire studied Wenlock Priory. Kirsty said:
This is somebody who I think will go on to develop her interest in archaeology and history. Heather seems to have a great passion.
- 13-year-old James Dilley from Hertfordshire produced a report about Royston and District Museum. Kirsty commented that
the level of his research was quite exceptional
- Lydia Gosnell aged 15 from London explored the Castle Climbing Centre, which was once a Metropolitan Waterboard engine house. Kirsty said:
Lydia put an enormous amount of work into this project and I was most impressed by her attention to detail.
These four entries have been highly commended.
The winner in the 13-16 age group is Yvette Taylor from Somerset. Yvette’s entry on Ashton Windmill stood out due to her love for the building. As Kirsty Wark said
the windmill is obviously something Yvette cares about a lot. Yvette’s research saw her contact the National Monuments Record Centre for a full monument report and also investigate the social history of the mill. Kirsty particularly enjoyed reading Yvette’s story about a day in the life of miller Tom Wilkins. She thought that it was a lovely way to explain how the mill works, and to make the building more alive and accessible.
The Association for Industrial Archaeology Award
For the best adaptive, innovative re-use of any historic or industrial building.
We would like to acknowledge two projects.
The Lincoln, Great Central Railway Warehouse, Brayford Pool. (Architect: University of Lincoln’s own in-house architects). This was the conversion of the Great Central Railway’ warehouse into the University of Lincoln Central Library. This brick built railway grain-storage warehouse and shed, was constructed in 1907. It spent the second half of the 20th century as a builder’s warehouse before falling in to disrepair in 1998. It has now been converted into a library and was formally opened at the end of 2004.
This building has won exceptional praise for the painstaking, careful nature of its restoration; the harmonious interplay of modern and original elements both internally and externally; and the preservation of its essential, industrial character throughout. Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), 2005.
Secondly, Great Maytham, Ashford, Kent. Conversion of the Lutyens/Hennebique Water Tank (Architect: Fountain Flanagan and Briscoe Associates). A square concrete water tower on stilts designed by Edwin Lutyens to supply the manor house nearby was converted to a domestic residence with an uncompromising extension in metal, glass and concrete. The original structure remains visible because the new house is threaded between the legs of the water tower. A new staircase runs through a glass stairwell up the outside of the tower leading to the bedrooms. New windows have been cut into the concrete tower to give fantastic view over the surrounding countryside.
The Winner is Birmingham, Bird’s Custard and Devonshire Factory, Digbeth (Developer: SPACE Organisation). Alfred Bird senior, a Digbeth chemist, devised a way of making custard without using eggs as his wife was allergic to them and, some years later in 1902, his son Sir Alfred Bird established the factory at Devonshire Works to produce Bird’s custard. Manufacturing was transferred from Digbeth to a factory at Banbury in 1964, and by the 1980s the factories on the 5-acre site were in a derelict state.
In 1990 SPACE Organisation purchased the site with the intention of aiding regeneration of the area by creating an arts and media quarter. The award winning first phase is generally regarded as a
model example of how derelict industrial buildings can be
reborn and help in bringing back to life run down inner city areas. Following an initial development of 140 studios in the early 1990s, the site has expanded and a further 100 studios added. The Green House has from May 2002 provided 110 studios for businesses in the new-media sector. There are nowe 240 creative businesses in the area, principally architects, graphic designers and new-media agencies.
The Custard Factory development has provided a catalyst for creative people in the West Midlands and aims to emulate Soho and Camden Town in London or Greenwich Village in New York. The Custard Factory initiative well-illustrates how adaptive reuse can revive the fortunes of a run-down former inland-port and industrial area.
The Heritage in Britain Award
For the best long-term preservation of a site, monument or building. Sponsored by English Heritage, Cadw and Historic Scotland.
The runner up for the Heritage in Britain Award is the Hampshire & Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology.
This project is part of a larger and continuing one for the establishment of heritage trails – this time on historic wreck sites within the Solent. The Alum Bay Dive Trail gives new access to the remains of HMS Pomone, wrecked on the Isle of Wight Needles in 1811 and now lying in 6 metres of water.
This project started from a strong local initiative a decade ago. What followed was a highly original exploratory approach, carefully thought-out, trialled, modified and retrialled over a number of years. Divers and non-divers are now being encouraged to understand, use and enjoy a little-explored part of our historic environment. The subsurface interpretative booklets and hand-lines around the wreck are augmented by on-shore exhibitions and briefings.
In particular we admired the professionalism of the project, not just as regards the underwater work itself and the educational concept, but also as regards the negotiation skills required to bring together the large number of statutory bodies necessary to bring the scheme to fruition.
The winner of the Heritage in Britain Award is the Biggar Archaeology Group.
More than a decade ago, the Biggar Group identified a largely unrecognised – and certainly undervalued historical resource – the remains of a dozen or more post-medieval Bastle Houses and fermetouns in and around the upper parts of Clydesdale. The remains of these houses lay in an area of forestry, exposing them to the threat of damage or even destruction, and their upland location made any attempt to conserve them extremely difficult.
Nevertheless, the group put in hand a continuing project for these abandoned farms, excavating and consolidating them and instituting a heritage trail which in 1996 won them the Pitt Rivers Award for the best amateur project of that year. Sustained involvement since then has led to the excavation and consolidation of other Bastle houses including those at Wintercleuch and Smithtown in the Daer Valley. These sites, consolidated to standards laid down by Historic Scotland and scheduled as Ancient Monuments, now form part of the group’s pattern of well signed and interpreted heritage trails.
We were impressed by the strong and sustained motivation of this amateur group, who were often working under adverse conditions. The outcome is a welcome and sustainable public resource for education and enjoyment.
The Mick Aston Presentation Award
For the best presentation of an archaeological project or theme to the public.
Two projects are recommended by the judges.
Cheshire County Council HER. This was by far the best documented submission with lots of evidence for feedback and the breadth of the audience reached by the different forms of presentation. The Council did well previously with Roman Middlewich and this seems to be a logical extension of the approaches developed there. There may be more sophisticated HERs out there, but few perhaps with the extent of outreach as demonstrated by Cheshire.
Biggar Archaeological Group. This website is attractive, with excellent photographs and an obvious commitment on Tam Ward’s behalf to promote the group’s activities. These were wide ranging with a strong commitment to running a Young Archaeologists Club in an area where there is no particularly spectacular archaeological finds but showed that there is a wealth of interest in the locality.
The winner of the Mick Aston Award is The Piddington Roman Villa. This is a very impressive project. It has been sustained for 27 years since the initial season of excavation. It has rescued a most impressive site with a considerable time depth. The site has produced a huge assemblage of finds and vast archive of data. However, this does not seem to have panicked the directors, the Friendship-Taylors, to whom a lot of credit must be paid. They have used students and researchers to publish finds groups to a good standard and are publishing the site in fascicules themselves. Having excavated the finds and discovering that the volume was beyond what the local museums service could deal with, they have bought and converted the local chapel and use it as a museum and research facility, manning it with volunteers over the weekends. The Upper Nene Archaeological Society seems to be thriving and provides the support for this their largest venture. The results of the project have involved and reached a very wide audience and will continue to have lasting value. This has been achieved largely through voluntary effort and with little capital funding.
The Archaeological Book Award
For the best book on British archaeology published in the last two years. Sponsored by the Ancient and Medieval History Book Club.
The Book Award is traditionally sponsored by the Ancient and Medieval History Book Club. It was an impressive collection of publications this year, and one of the judges first problems was dividing books into the categories of popular and scholarly. The popular books were also scholarly, and the scholarly books definitely readable.
Joint highly commended award goes to Medieval Town Walls. An Archaeology and Social History of Urban Defence by Oliver Creighton and Robert Higham (Tempus publishing). This is a welcome synthesis of diverse and complex evidence told in an engaging, thematic manner.
The second highly commended award is to: Gold, Gilt, Pots and Pins. Possessions and People in Medieval Britain by David A Hinton (OUP). Finally, we have a cultural context for all those brooches, hat pins and livery badges. All those finds and references in one place at last, and with sumptuous presentation.
The Runner up is The Great Warbow. From Hastings to the Mary Rose by Matthew Strickland and Robert Hardy (Sutton). Magnificently illustrated and referenced, this impressive multidisciplinary survey discusses a key medieval artefact in its full historical and archaeological context. Read this to spot what is wrong with the latest Robin Hood.
The Winner is The Tomb Builders in Wales 4000-3000BC by Steve Burrow (National Museum of Wales). Beautifully produced and illustrated in very accessible language, this book uncovers the complex nature of prehistoric burial monuments and forces the reader to go out into the landscape and view the monuments afresh. Unusually, the approach focuses on the people who made the tombs and the environment in which they lived. Tomb Builders is a model of popular publication. As one of the judges put it,
you can explore without feeling excluded.
The Scholarly Publication Award
For the best academic publication (monograph, conference proceedings) published in the last two years, sponsored by a consortium of British Archaeological Societies.
The two runners up are British Iron Age Swords and Scabbards by Ian M. Stead (British Museum). This is a detailed archaeological and technological study of a defining artefact of the British Iron Age and its social culture. And, Sutton Hoo. A Seventh-Century princely burial ground and its context by Martin Carver (British Museum).
Exemplary report of an innovative excavation of an iconic site… A model of multidisciplinary site investigation and analysis are how our judges described it.
The Winner is Requiem. The Medieval Monastic Cemetery in Britain by Roberta Gilchrist and Barney Sloane (MoLAS). Requiem squeezes meaning out of 8000 medieval graves and challenges the historical orthodoxy that burial customs were undifferentiated over 500 years. A groundbreaking piece of synthesis and analysis exemplifying the impact of archaeology alongside little-known documentary sources. This is an exemplary approach to burial studies that will be the work of reference for medieval mortuary studies for years to come.
The Press Award
Sponsored by Wedgwood, for the best coverage of archaeology in the printed press or on radio.
One problem we often have is defining the
Press. We have come to embrace radio as well as newspapers as all are concerned about providing news to the public. This year our net has been cast even wider than ever with an entry from the Wall Street Journal no less. Henry Teitelbaum of Dow Jones International wrote about the problems of balancing ancient and modern in the development of London.
A rather different entry was British Archaeology, and in particular its editor Mike Pitts. We suspect the whole of British Archaeology is impressed by the way he has developed the magazine to a position where it is compulsory reading for all interested in our subject. However, in spite of being impressed by both candidates, we have decided to offer the award elsewhere, or rather two awards. Our joint winners are:
Treasure your Past, a glossy magazine produced by the Eastern Daily Press in association with Tarmac, the Norfolk Museums Service and the British Museum. One of our judges said that this was a milestone in the reporting of British archaeology.
The second winner is Win Scutt and the World Archaeology News on BBC Radio Five Alive. The Up All Night programme offers 15 minutes of archaeology each Tuesday, with over 50 hours broadcast over the last 5 years. The programme reaches over 1 million visitors who are mad enough to stay up to 3.30am to listen.
The judges were impressed in both cases by the wide-ranging nature of the archaeology presented.
The Channel 4 Television Awards
For the best British-made film, video or ICT presentation in archaeology.
The Channel 4 Awards are administered by the joint Council for British Archaeology/British Universities Film & Video Council Committee for Audio-Visual Education (CAVE) and form part of the biennial British Archaeological Awards. Judging of the awards took place at the BUFVC‘s offices in July and the results were announced at the British Archaeological Awards ceremony held in Birmingham on 6 November 2006. The Awards were presented by Mick Aston, Emeritus Professor of Bristol University and member of the Time Team. The winner of each category received a cheque for £750 and a BAA certificate, and certificates were also presented to the runners up in each category.
See the BUFVC website for more information.
In the Broadcast Category section, it was, as usual, difficult to compare the merits of a very varied set of entries. However, the judges felt that the three programmes, Secrets of the Old Testament, a MAP tv production for Channel 5, The First Emperor, (Lion Television for Channel 4), Time Team – Rubble at the Mill (Videotext Communications for Channel 4) stood out. As so often, the selection of a short list proved easier than that of the outright winner. How do you compare the Time Team phenomenon against investigations of the emperor behind the terracotta army or the archaeology behind a book which underpins several regions? After considerable deliberation, the panel decided that The First Emperor should be awarded the Channel Four Award for Broadcast Programmes for its airing of an archaeology rarely seen on network television. Time Team – Rubble at the Mill and Secrets of the Old Testament were both highly commended and receive certificates.
In the non-broadcast category we have come to expect items with a wide variety of aims and budgets. This year was no exception. Entries included records of projects from rural Derbyshire to rural Africa via industrial Scotland and a study aid for an Open University classical civilisation module. One entry stood out, however, the presentation of a series of interviews about television archaeology produced by Sean Caveille (Ephemera – Archaeology on Television). The Panel was unanimous in awarding this Channel 4 Award in the non-broadcast category for its original and innovative approach.
ICT Category finalists
We are very happy to be able to make this award for the fourth time, thanks to our sponsors, Channel 4. Submissions reflected a wide range of interests and budgets, with entries from local authorities, amateur groups and Higher Education institutions. Deciding amongst such a diverse group is always challenging, and this year we have nominated two joint runners up as well as an overall winner.
The first runner up is the Norfolk county council’s Norfolk E-Map Explorer (http://www.historic-maps.norfolk.gov.uk/). This online resource provides access to a range of historic maps and aerial photographs covering much of the county of Norfolk. In addition to a user friendly searching facility, additional tools allow users to take measurements from the various maps and to compare different maps and aerial photos of the same location. This must be an invaluable resource to anyone studying the history and archaeology of the area.
The second runner up comes from the Mellor Archaeological Trust (http://mellorarchaelogy.org.uk/), from Stockport, Greater Manchester. This is a website created by an amateur group supported by HLF whose commitment and enthusiasm to uncovering the history of their local area is impressive. The site contains a wealth of information, detailing the very recently discovered archaeology of the area, from the Neolithic to the present day.
The winner of the 2006 awards is the Northumberland Rock Art Web Access to the Beckensall Archive (http://rockart.ncl.ac.uk/). This site provides access to Stan Beckenstall’s remarkable archive of images dedicated to this equally remarkable collection of prehistoric sites – the Neolithic and Bronze Age rock carving of Northumberland. There are over 6000 images of rock art panels, which can be searched in a number of ways, including important information on the accessibility of these sites to those of restricted mobility. There are also interactive components, including over 40 Panoramic Virtual Reality views of sites. This award is also a celebration of the work of Stan Beckenstall, who spent 40 years recording prehistoric rock art. Throughout that time he shared his knowledge through talks and his richly illustrated publications – now we can appreciate him through the world wide web.
The IFA Award
For the best professional or professional/voluntary archaeological project that demonstrates a commitment to professional standards and ethics in archaeology, sponsored by the Institute of Field Archaeologists.
The IFA Award 2006 is tinged with great sadness as one of our judges, Richard Avent, was tragically drowned with his son Rhydian while on holiday in Malta. Richard has been a judge on various BAA Award panels and most recently with the IFA Award since its inception in 2004. He always managed to find time in his busy work schedule as Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings with Cadw to read and consider the entries and provide his marks in a timely way. This year was no exception and Richard diligently provided his marks just before heading off on his last fateful summer holiday.
The winners all demonstrated a strong research focus for their projects, innovative methods, commitment to publication and attention to public outreach.
An excellent runner up was the Shoreditch Park Community Archaeology Project, a collaboration between the local community and professional staff at the Museum of London. Over 3000 people participated in the project which uncovered the remains of four terrace houses which had been damaged in bombing raids during World War II. The judges liked the strong emphasis on research, on community outreach and the active involvement of school children. The outcomes from the project included handling boxes for schools, a summary leaflet, an adult learning programme, a post-excavation report, Open Days at the Museum of London and Hackney Museum and a Time Team documentary.
Our second runner up is The A421/A428 Exploring the Clay Lands of Bedfordshire and Cambridge was a major infrastructure project with an overt commitment to good quality research and public dissemination. In all 19 archaeological sites were excavated along the route. These provided evidence for the early colonisation of the clay lands and the movement of settlement from the river valleys. Research frameworks for eastern England were used to provide the basis for detailed objectives such as site function, spatial development within settlements, ritual practice and social modelling. A421 Great Barford was published in 2005 and distributed to over 5000 households in the area. The A428 report is currently in preparation.
The project was clearly well managed and an excellent example of a productive partnership between Oxford Archaeology and Albion Archaeology and consultants CgMs, all three of them are IFA-registered archaeological organisations.
The winner is The Whiteleaf Hill Local Nature Reserve Project was initiated by community representatives and Buckinghamshire County Council and involved Oxford Archaeology. The community-based project explored the rich past of Whiteleaf Hill, excavating, conserving and interpreting it for future generations. The Hill is a rich tapestry of ancient and modern, with a Neolithic barrow, a Bronze Age dyke and two supposed round barrows, World War I practice trenches, sunken trackways, ancient and modern woodland and Whiteleaf Cross.
The project provided a strong research focus and an education programme for local schools. Public displays of finds from the excavations have been made in association with the Museums and Library Service and in local libraries and at the County Museum. The Whiteleaf Hill project brought together a number of key agenda in a single coherent project: community leadership and participation, innovative and ambitious conservation techniques, integration of the historic and natural environment, new archaeological research and the re-examination of museum archives. The judges are pleased to award first place to Whiteleaf Hill Local Nature Reserve Project.
The Current Archaeology Developer-Funded Archaeology Award
For the project that best demonstrates the value of developer-funded archaeology, sponsored by Current Archaeology.
Most archaeology done in this country is paid for by developers. Their input is substantial, but is it producing any real archaeology? The Current Archaeology Award for Developer Funded archaeology sets out to answer this question, and these awards demonstrate some of the remarkable and unexpected results that Developer funded archaeology is producing. Perhaps the biggest single excavation over the past couple of years has been the Shires Project in Leicester which aims at the regeneration of a massive area in the town centre. Hammersons, the developers, liaised closely with the University of Leicester Archaeological Services, who spent three years excavating in advance of redevelopment. Occupation stretched from the Romans through grubbenhausen to the Tudors. Amazingly, it was possible to demonstrate that the timber used in the roof of the Tudor grammar school came from the church of St Peter demolished in 1573.
The Cheviot Quarry near Wooler in Northumberland lies not far away from the classic Anglo-Saxon royal palace at Old Yeavering, and thus Tarmac, the quarry owners, made provision for extensive excavation by the local unit Archaeological Research Services, under its director Clive Waddington and supported the post-excavation work too. They were not disappointed. More Neolithic pottery was found than had hitherto in the whole of Northumberland, and round houses and at least two halls. The initial belief was that all were Neolithic. However, when the radiocarbon dates came through, a very different story emerged. Some were indeed Neolithic. But the round houses, and indeed some of the coarser pottery belonged to the late Bronze Age where it appears to mark one of the earliest reoccupations of Northern Britain following the eruption of Hekla in 1159 BC. And the halls were not Neolithic but 5th and 6th century AD.
The clay lands of Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire have always proved elusive to archaeologists, but when the Great Barford bypass and the Cambridge to M1 trunk road was being constructed, it provided an opportunity for CgMs Archaeology to subcontract excavation along its length to Oxford Archaeology and Albion Archaeology. Eighteen sites in all were located from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages, including a hoard of 4473 Roman coins. The most remarkable aspect was the public exhibitions together with a popular report distributed to over 5,000 households by Edmund Nuttall, the civil engineering contractors. Road builders are often reluctant to publicise their work for fear of encouraging protesters, but the success of this project demonstrates that the advantages to be gained by discussing the research agenda widely.
Finally, there are two projects concerning industrial archaeology. The majority of developer funded projects are in fact devoted to looking at 18th and 19th century sites, and two in particular proved to be outstanding examples of the work being done. At Bristol the Portwall Lane glasshouse was a pioneer in glass production in the late 18th century. However, the site had been sold to developers Deeley Freed Estates Ltd who wanted to erect an office building on the site. With the help of Engineers Arup the new development was redesigned so that the positioning of piles, and the use of steel beams to bridge the glassworks avoided the archaeology which was thus preserved for future generation beneath the new building. The project owes its success to effective collaboration between the Bristol City Archaeologist, Bristol and Region Archaeological Services, Sir Robert Alpine, Arup, King Sturge, and Deeley Freed Estates Ltd.
At Worcester an even more typical problem came along. How does one regenerate redundant factory buildings which could potentially be turned into attractive flats? The Albion Flour Mill, built after 1846 was the heart of the problem, a
monstrosity which had served since the 1960s as the Royal Worcester Porcelain factory, and had come to inspire considerable affection. Meticulous recording by Archenfield Archaeology for the developers Berkeley Homes, has enabled the Flour Mill to be turned into a desirable block of flats. This is in many ways the new face of archaeology, and Current Archaeology is happy to commend the imaginative way of turning the old into the new.
The runner-up is a most unusual project. The geological exploration of the North Sea in the search for oil has produced a mass of seismic evidence for the geology of the North Sea. The geological survey was directed at what was happening hundreds of metres down, and the information from the top tens of metres was put aside as not direclty relevant . However, to Vince Gaffney, Professor of archaeology at Birmingham, this was treasure and Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) donated more than 22,000 km² of marine seismic data collected and analysed over decades to allow the production of detailed maps of a uniquely preserved, but largely unknown, Mesolithic landscape covering an area the size of Wales. Using the equipment kindly provided by the Hewlett Packard Corporation, British archaeologists are exploring the rivers, streams, lakes and coastlines of an entire European country that has not been seen for 8000 years.
Rarely does any single excavation have the ability to rewrite history, yet such is the case for our winner a remarkable discovery of an untouched Anglo-Saxon royal burial at Prittlewell in Essex. This was the result of a road improvement scheme. An Anglo-Saxon cemetery was known from earlier work on the other side of the road, but when the Museum of London Archaeological Services began work, they soon revealed the richest Anglo-Saxon burial since the Sutton Hoo ship burial. The Southend-on-Sea Borough Council generously supported the excavation and encouraged an extensive outreach programme, with a series of exhibitions, a Time Team Programme and articles in Current Archaeology and elsewhere. The whole project was a splendid example of the unexpected results of what can happen when you set out to improve a road system and find a prince.
The Keith Muckelroy Award
For published work on British maritime archaeology which best reflects the pioneering ideas and scholarly aspirations of the late Keith Muckelroy, sponsored by a consortium of marine archaeology groups led by the Keith Muckelroy Trust.
Six high quality publications were short-listed for the Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award.
The runners up were:
The Dover Bronze-Age Boat in Context. Society and Water Transport in Prehistoric Europe, edited by Peter Clark (Oxbow, 2004), is a popular presentation of research, on this important find with some good papers. Like many conference reports, it relies on the reader forming an overview.
Monitoring of Shipwreck Sites, by Paola Palma (International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 34:2 (2005), 323-31) is an interim report of an international project to establish a suitable programme for the monitoring, safeguarding and visualization of shipwreck sites, based on three in the Baltic and North Seas (the 13th-century Darss Cog (Germany), the 17th-century Burgzand Noord 10 wreck (The Netherlands), and the Vrouw Maria (1771, Finland). It is commended for being written up quickly and clearly.
The Adelaar: a Dutch East-Indiaman Wrecked in 1728 off Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, by Colin J. Martin (International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 34.2 (2005),179-210) shows how exposed sites can retain meaningful levels of archaeological data from which valid historical conclusions can be drawn. It is commended as one of very few final reports on a wreck excavation which took place some 30 years ago.
The judging panel felt that two publications merited Highly Commended Awards. These were: Submarine Prehistoric Archaeology of the North Sea. Research Priorities in collaboration with Industry, edited by N C Fleming (CBA Research Report 141, published by CBA and English Heritage, 2004). This most impressive work is a multi-authored collection of papers, but it reads as a coherent whole, with contributions of great importance to archaeology of all periods. It is the outcome of a structured workshop of carefully selected scholars whose contributions mesh together to make a deeply profound and outstandingly important statement of seminal relevance to prehistoric archaeology generally. This is just the kind of mould-breaking approach, much pioneered by the editor, which would have appealed to Keith. And secondly, The Dover Bronze Age Boat, edited by Peter Clark (English Heritage, 2004). This is a superb, detailed, objective and analytical work of this important find. The contributions from 32 specialists range from discovery, excavation, description, assembly and construction techniques to reconstruction and performance, artefacts, and environmental evidence. Some interpretations have stimulated vigorous debate. The thoroughness of the investigation and the wealth of knowledge about this subject that it brings are highly commended.
The winner is Before the Mast. Life and Death Aboard the Mary Rose, edited by Julie Gardiner with Michael J. Allen (The Mary Rose Trust, Portsmouth, 2005). This well-organised, and well-illustrated book is an amazing achievement by the Mary Rose Trust, the contributors and the Editors. Keith Muckelroy had been directly involved with the Mary Rose project in its early days, and would have been deeply saddened by the difficulties and inadequacies of much of the post-excavation work. The latter-day rescue package put together by the Mary Rose Trust and Wessex Archaeology, under the guidance and general editorship of Julie Gardiner, has resulted in a series of research publications, of which this is Volume 4. It covers material culture from the ship other than weaponry and the ship herself, and has involved the co-ordination of 54 separate experts to compile a 732-page descriptive catalogue, with supporting explanation and analysis. It should be noted that the illustrators have made as great a contribution to the success of the volume as have the contributing authors. The collection of finds is so numerous and of such a wide range that the volume is consulted and referred to by land archaeologists, in a way rarely seen for other collections from shipwrecks. This makes it a ground-breaking volume.
The Pitt-Rivers Award
For the best project by volunteers, sponsored by the Robert Kiln Trust and awarded in two categories: the Main Award and the Graham Webster Laurels.
We are delighted to report that we had an excellent set of submissions for the Pitt Rivers Award, sixteen entries in total. The overall quality of the work is I believe the highest for many years and a tribute to the voluntary sector. Some of the projects are quite considerable in size and all are keeping up with modern practice in archaeology. Inevitably many groups are using grants for specialist reports and assistance, this is for the good of archaeology and must be encouraged, but we have taken into account the way grants are used to ensure the volunteers still have
their hands on the tiller. We are particularly impressed where groups are taking the opportunity to train their own members to study and write their own reports.
We have five finalists of which two receive certificates and an invitation to apply to the Robert Kiln Trust for a grant, if they require one to continue their excellent work.
For a most unusual rescue project that entailed considerable research and excellent reporting. The Hendon & District Archaeology Society. – Post excavation analysis of material from the 1960s.
For an update on a long term Romano British Landscape excavation and survey. The Bath & Camerton Society. – Upper Row Project: further work during 2004 & 2005.
The judges have exercised their option to give the prestigious Graham Webster Award to the Society who appears to have everything right. They have been excavating a Romano British site for 27 years, training and encouraging their own people to study and become specialists in the various disciplines.
Faced with a major difficulty, common in Northamptonshire, of nowhere to deposit their finds, the Society raised the money to buy a redundant chapel and restored it throughout, turning it into to a very impressive, modern museum. It has a viewing area and full facilities for the public, also rooms where students and local school children are given training.
For their emphasis on education and excellence the Graham Webster Laurels go to: The Upper Nene Archaeological Society. – The Piddington Roman Museum and Excavation.
The runner-up for the Pitt Rivers Award goes to a Society that has a very impressive record of excavation, reporting and post excavation in Scotland. Working in the Daer Valley which was flooded in 1956 to form a reservoir, the Society has taken advantage of dropping water levels in recent years, to find sites from the prehistoric to post mediaeval, unsuspected prior to the dam creation. We were lost in admiration at the sheer scale of their work both academically and for creating an archaeological trail for visitors, complete with consolidated ruins and information boards.
For their work on a huge multi period site the runners-up – The Biggar Archaeological Group. The Daer Valley Project.
As I mentioned earlier the standard of work carried out and the quality of achievement has been extremely high this year. So much so, that we have awarded joint winners.
The Norfolk Historic Buildings Group produced a report on buildings within the Village of Buckenham. The organization was superb; it started with a meeting in the Village Hall where the Group was formed with a five year plan and a few houses to survey. Further public meetings were then held to explain their findings and to encourage other householders to open their houses for inspection. Some of the founder members had previous experience of building recording and they trained others how to proceed. They applied to the ‘Awards for All Fund’ and obtained £5000 pounds of which £3000 was spent on dendrochronology to give an accurate base to their work and £2000 towards publication.
The finished results give the largest collection of vernacular houses to have dendro. sampling in Norfolk.
The final report is excellent and is recommended to anyone with an interest in timber framed houses.
For their work in New Buckenham an equal winner of the Pitt Rivers Award – The Norfolk Historic Buildings Group.
The work of the second joint winner could hardly be more different. The Witham Valley has been recognized as an area of considerable archaeological value, consisting of a large flood plain, which has been yielding high status finds from all periods since the 19th century. The area is threatened by development, but most of all by the erosion of the protective peat layer which has kept artifacts in a good condition. In 2001, the Washingborough Archaeology Group was a founder member of the Witham Valley Archaeological Research Committee. The Group concentrated on intensive field walking and auger surveying. This identified many archaeological sites and provided an accurate topographical view of the Valley. The data was shared with other organizations, which in turn, helped by partly financing the work and supplying the leveling equipment required for accurate plotting.
Specialist reports were produced by the Group with some professional support. This is a very good example of cooperation between the professional and independent sector.
For a major contribution to the archaeology of the Witham Valley: The equal winner of the Pitt Rivers Award – The Washingborough Archaeology Group.
The Silver Trowel Award
For the greatest initiative in archaeology, sponsored by Spear and Jackson.
The Silver Trowel Award is given to the project or person which shows the best initiative in British archaeology. This is never an easy award to judge, and this year has been no different. We have been impressed by Tam Ward’s Daer project, the Washingborough Witham Valley Survey, the Ringlemere gold cup project, and the work of the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology. All are clearly excellent projects carried out in an exemplary way. However, we felt that while they all demonstrated good practice, the best good practice in fact, they did not entirely meet the criteria for the award. One other project we considered met the criteria.
Many here, I am sure, have been impressed by the archaeological work undertaken in the Peak District over many years. In particular, most recently one man, has, quite literally, undertaken a one-man show to bring the archaeology of the area to the attention of as wide a public as possible. He has published a review of the lead industry and an appraisal of the future of its archaeology; an archaeological survey, a landscape survey, and a popular account of the area as well as contributing to many other publications on the archaeology of the Peak District. Each one of us might have written one of these books and articles. In making the award, we are recognising the achievement and unusual and indeed innovatory actions of publishing at some many different levels in order to raise the profile of archaeology in the Peak District. And, I would add, he also acts as a conservation officer for the Peak District Mines Historical Society, engages with all branches of the press, lectures and plays a full part in other archaeological activities.
We are delighted to award John Barnatt the Silver Trowel for 2006.