Antiquities, archaeology and the public


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Talk for the Public and Popular History seminar at the University of Cambridge, 8th February 2011

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Antiquities, archaeology and the public

  1. 1. Antiquities, Archaeology and the Public Dr Helen Geake Finds Adviser (Post-Roman Artefacts) to the Portable Antiquities Scheme c/o McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge [email_address]
  2. 2. <ul><li>What are the secrets of their success? </li></ul><ul><li>How have they changed people’s view of archaeology? </li></ul><ul><li>What effect have they had on archaeology as a discipline? </li></ul>
  3. 3. PAS staff in post 1997 PAS staff in post 1999 Since 2003 we have recorded finds made by members of the public across the whole of England & Wales
  4. 4. The database on which the public’s finds are recorded Our funder:
  5. 5. He’s looking for things She isn’t
  6. 6. (Portable Antiquities and Treasure Annual Report 2007, p. 9) Metal-detectorists are a skewed demographic <ul><li>In a recent survey: </li></ul><ul><li>92.4% were male </li></ul><ul><li>93.5% were over 35 years old </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Daily Mail, September 25 th 2009
  8. 8. The Crosby Garrett Roman helmet
  9. 10. <ul><li>How has the PAS changed people’s view of archaeology? </li></ul><ul><li>Archaeology is all around us, not just on ‘sites’ </li></ul><ul><li>Archaeologists are friendly and approachable </li></ul><ul><li>BUT there’s a risk: that archaeology will be seen as being all about finds, and the more valuable the object (in monetary terms) the better </li></ul>
  10. 11. Time Team (1994 onwards)
  11. 12. Choosing the sites <ul><li>Two things to balance: </li></ul><ul><li>a high chance of finding archaeological evidence that you can film </li></ul><ul><li>a good story to make a television programme about </li></ul>Jim Mower, Development
  12. 13. Project Design for Castor, Peterborough (filmed 2010)
  13. 14. Schedule, Day 1 (Tottiford Reservoir, filmed 2010)
  14. 15. A script! (from Llancaiach Fawr, a fortified manor house in south Wales – filmed 2010)
  15. 16. Some vain attempts to script the end of Day 3 It’s hard to know in advance what will be found
  16. 17. A camera crew Sound man Cameraman Camera assistant Director
  17. 18. Tim Taylor, Series Producer
  18. 19. Discussing what to do next at Sutton Courtenay Anglo-Saxon ‘palace’ site (filmed 2009) Tim Taylor Mick Aston Victor Ambrus
  19. 20. From survey… to digging… to recording… … Time Team projects are well-resourced, scholarly pieces of archaeological research
  20. 21. Challenge Anneka BBC1, Saturday evenings 1989-1995
  21. 22. Changing Rooms BBC, 1996-2004 Ground Force BBC, 1997-2005
  22. 24. Assuming that a mass audience wants superficial content…. … is perhaps a snobbish and elitist position
  23. 25. Social pigeonholes A    Professional/senior managerial B    Middle managers/executives C1   Junior managers/non-manual C2   Skilled manual D    Semi-skilled/unskilled manual E    Unemployed/state dependents
  24. 26. The public face of the PAS At a show In the field At a school
  25. 27. Television watching by social grade
  26. 28. Time Team in 2009 had an average of over 2m viewers
  27. 30. <ul><li>What are the secrets of their success? </li></ul><ul><li>How have they changed people’s view of archaeology? </li></ul><ul><li>What effect have they had on archaeology as a discipline? </li></ul>
  28. 34. Quarry Archaeology (a Neolithic house)
  29. 37. <ul><li>David Starkey: </li></ul><ul><li>well washed </li></ul><ul><li>very clever </li></ul><ul><li>perhaps a bit forbidding </li></ul><ul><li>Phil Harding: </li></ul><ul><li>dirty but friendly </li></ul>