Innovation Festival



Due to the success of our first Innovation Festival, CIfA is delighted to confirm that our second festival celebrating innovation in archaeology will be held on 11 - 15 October 2021 as a continuing annual event!

The historic environment is rich and diverse benefiting from a wide variety of specialisms. Collaborations spanning academic, community-led and developer-funded archaeological research provide fascinating insights to our collective past often with the help of new/adapted ‘innovative’ approaches. However, implementing innovation is not always straightforward as highlighted in a recent project undertaken by CIfA in collaboration with ALGAO (funded by Historic England). This project highlighted the issues and potential barriers being faced by archaeologists trying to embrace innovation, especially in the commercial sector, and which will form discussion themes throughout the festival.

The innovation festival will provide the opportunity to showcase and celebrate the innovative practices and approaches being undertaken across the historic environment sector, whilst tabling for wider discussion some of the identified barriers and challenges to implementing innovation in archaeological research. This week-long virtual festival will comprise a mix of short sessions each day including presentations, workshops, opportunities for open discussion, CPD and knowledge transfer. Click here to take a look at some of the session recordings from our January Innovation festival.


Registration now open!

Your registration will now register you for the entire festival - allowing you to log into our virtual festival platform and instantly join each session at any time without waiting for emails or Zoom links. 

There is a small fee to attend which gives you access to the full weeks programme. To find out more about the virtual events platform that we'll be using for the festival, including demonstration videos and 'how to guides' - please click here.

If you have registered for the festival and haven't received your login information or if you're experiencing any issues with accessing our conference platform, please contact us via:


Festival programme

Marine Monday, 11 October 2021

10:00am - 1:00pm (BST) Technology and methodology in marine archaeology

Presented by:


Since the advent of marine archaeology, the profession has been driven by developments in technology. From the introduction of SCUBA in the mid-20th century to the commonplace application of photogrammetry for 3d modelling today, technological advance has increasingly enabled access to, and high quality visualisation of, underwater sites. By their very nature, marine sites are frequently harder to access or record than terrestrial sites due to the environment; therefore, the application of innovative techniques are often required to undertake archaeological investigations. This session aims to showcase the innovative applications of technologies and new methodologies that are currently being used by the profession, both in commercial and academic spheres, to increase the capacity of marine archaeologists.

Presentations will include:

  • Using technology to go back to basics, Phoebe Wild and Mark James (MSDS Marine)
  • Shedding light on submerged prehistory: New protocols for integrating OSL dating within developer-led geotechnical campaigns, Dr Sally Evans (MSDS Marine), Dr Michael Grant (University of Southampton), and Professor Phil Toms (University of Gloucestershire)
  • Using the new generation of low-cost battery powered ROVs for subsea archaeological work, Graham Scott, Dr Robert MacKintosh, Paolo Croce & Toby Gane (Wessex Archaeology) and Hefin Meara (Historic England)
  • Protecting Underwater Cultural Heritage Forensically, Alison James (MSDS Marine)
  • An integrated methodology to record Invincible, Dr Rodrigo Ortiz (University of Southampton)
  • Redeveloping the National Marine Heritage Record, Hefin Meara (Historic England)
2:00pm - 5:00pm (BST)

Innovation underwater: improving the accessibility of marine heritage

Presented by:


Promoting and improving access to heritage is a key focus for many working in the heritage sector, reflected in the aims of the Heritage 2020 initiative and echoed in the plans and strategies of heritage bodies and organisations. While marine archaeological sites such as shipwrecks and submerged prehistoric landscapes can grab public interest, engagement with these sites is often difficult. The sea can form a barrier in engagement and most members of the public cannot directly access underwater archaeological sites. This session aims to showcase new and innovative ways in which we can bring maritime archaeology to the attention of the public, and aims to present an overview of successful means for improving access to underwater archaeology which can influence and inspire future engagement.

Chairs: Alison James and Peta Knott

Presentations will include:

  • Make a splash – creating access to maritime archaeology in landlocked Leicester, Lee Pape (MSDS Marine)
  • ‘Jurassic Park’ – bringing the extinct back to public life through marine archaeology, Euan McNeil, Alistair Byford-Bates and Graham Scott, Wessex Archaeology and David Morris, Fleet Air Arm Museum
  • Making underwater cultural heritage accessible through eLearning, Peta Knott (NAS)
  • Championing protected wreck site security, Jenny Kent (MSDS Marine)
  • Virtual dive trails - exploring England’s protected wrecks from the comfort of your armchair, Hefin Meara (Historic England) 



Tuesday, 12 October 2021

10:30am - 12:00pm (BST)

Dendrochronology in Scotland: applications and innovations in archaeology, buildings, landscape and climate studies

Presented by:

Dr Coralie Mills (Dendrochronicle, University of St Andrews) and Professor Rob Wilson (University of St Andrews)

Dendrochronology continues to be developed in Scotland to build on the progress made in dating archaeological sites and historic buildings, expanding the application to historic wooded landscapes and for past climate reconstruction, as summarised in these two back to back talks.

This has involved dendrochronological work on other species as well as oak, most notably our native Scots pine, where our expanding tree-ring records from the Caledonian pinewoods and old buildings have offered new insights into our built heritage, our historic timber supply and our climate history. These have been facilitated by the development of new methods in pine dendrochronology, in particular using Blue Intensity measurements as a proxy for wood density in tree-rings, as well as the usual ring width approach, proving extremely valuable in both dating and climate applications. The new oxygen isotope method for dating oak timbers, as being developed in England and Wales by Professor Neil Loader at Swansea University, is now being expanded into Scotland in collaboration with him, and the prospective benefits of this new method for dendro-dating are also briefly presented. Join Coralie and Rob for two short talks on these topics; Coralie will be present online to answer any questions afterwards.

12:30pm - 2:00pm (BST) CIfA Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting will be held at 12:30pm on Tuesday 12 October via Zoom. All members are invited to attend - to register please click here.

AGM Notice and Annual review

The AGM notice outlining the items for discussion at the meeting is availabel on the website at

The 2021 annual review and accounts are published on the website at

Find out more about the CIfA Annual General Meeting


Wednesday, 13 October 2021

10:00am - 11:00am (BST) Virtually engaged – using 2D animation and virtual reality to enable access to heritage

Presented by:

To enable more, and a wider range of people to access heritage, as engagement practitioners we cannot rely solely on ‘archaeologically aware’ audiences engaging with us. We need to proactively curate opportunities for the archaeologically unaware to be engaged with heritage – and this means we have to go to them. It means we go to places where we know these people will be and engage through a medium that can offer surprise and delight. The onus is on us to create the doorway that enables people to discover they can access heritage.

Using virtual reality to recreate archaeological sites, telling stories supported by 2D animation and bringing people together to explore art and archaeology, Wessex Archaeology has taken heritage to the elderly, the isolated and the unaware. The programme has overcome physical and socio-economic barriers and the Covid-19 pandemic to bring to life stories from the past, for audiences who had limited access to heritage, to enhance their knowledge and wellbeing. 
2:00pm - 5:00pm (BST)

The power of 3D in cultural heritage management

Presented by:

Scottish archaeology has long been at the forefront of innovative visualisation techniques, our settlement record rich in upstanding sites and relict landscapes of earth and stone. In recent years there has been a subtle gear change in the use of 3D visualisation within cultural heritage management and interpretation. In particular, opportunities realised by terrestrial and airborne laser scanning and photogrammetry have been combined with traditional survey and recording methodology. This webinar will showcase some of these developments, with case studies presented by innovators from Historic Environment Scotland and AOC Archaeology among others, leading to discussion of current practice and future potential.

Presentations will include:

  • Introduction and session chair, Matt Ritchie (Forestry and Land Scotland)
  • Beyond the point clouds: real-world use of 3D digital data for conservation of heritage sites, Dr Lyn Wilson (Historic Environment Scotland)
  • 3D visualisation of aerial LiDAR data: some archaeological applications from Scotland, Dr Graeme Cavers (AOC Archaeology)
  • Using airborne photogrammetric survey to create detailed contour models, David Connolly (Skyscape Surveys)
  • Field observation, 3D modelling and the enhancement of illustrative techniques, Łukasz Banaszek and Ali McCaig (Historic Environment Scotland)
  • Capturing the moment: using photogrammetry for public engagement on archaeological excavations, Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark (National Museums Scotland)


Thursday, 14 October 2021

10:00am - 1:00pm (BST)

Digital or divisive? Stratifying the sector

Presented by:


Following the successful session at the inaugural CIfA Innovation Festival, whilst Born Digital Recording is becoming commonplace throughout the sector, implementation of digital methodologies are varied and cautious. 

Our goal is to encourage lively discussion of everyone’s pros, cons and concerns for the digital revolution. 

We are inviting short papers exploring the dichotomy that digital has created in UK archaeology, from any angle or perspective. We are happy to accept pre-recorded submissions should live presentations not be possible, which we hope to promote prior to the live sessions to instigate broad discussion.

Following the session we hope to facilitate publication of the session presentations and further explore the theme through a CIfA Tea Break event. This will allow for additional views to be represented and attendees time to digest and process their thoughts.

2:00 pm- 4:00pm (BST)

Archaeological innovation in Wales

Supported by:

This session explores some of the innovative archaeological work, research and projects that are taking place across Wales with a wide range of different presentations from commercial, academic research and voluntary viewpoints.

These include:


  • Marks in the Landscape, Julian Ravest
  • GCRF Phoenix Namibia Project, Scott Williams and Jacqui Mulville (Cardiff University)
  • Accessioning Arch Camb - Remote volunteering in north-west Wales, Sean Derby (Gwynedd Archaeological Trust)
  • ‘CHERISHing’ our Coastal Heritage​, Dan Hunt (RCAHMW)
  • Developing a digital recording system, Sophie Lewis-Jones (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust)


Friday, 15 October 2021

10:30am - 11:15am (BST) Discussion: Defining and implementing innovation in developer-led archaeology

Presented by:

2:00pm - 4:00pm (BST)

Celebrating early careers and academic research - what's new?
Presented by:

What’s new? This session will provide a platform for student-led and early careers research through presentations that explore the new and exciting academic research currently being undertaken in archaeology. Each of our ten presenters will shine a spotlight on the latest research, approaches, methods and its potential applications and implications for the wider historic environment sector.

Presentations will include:

  • Employment of Spatial Syntax Analysis to Acquire Socio-cultural Information at Certain Archaeological Sites in Roman Judaea, Elizabeth Legge (University of Pisa)
  • Presenting 'Heritapp': A new heritage mobile application for promoting citizen participation and tackling the imbalance in cultural visits, Sonia Pujals Blanch (University of York)
  • The Role and Significance of Red Deer in the Orcadian Neolithic: The Ness of Brodgar and Beyond, Kathrine Page (University of the Highlands and Islands, Orkney College Archaeology Institute)
  • Land and Lordship: Lincolnshire and Yorkshire during the Reign of King Stephen, c. 1135 – 1154, Ryan Prescott (University of Hull)
  • My closest heritage, Alfie Talks (The University of York)
  • The Battle of Cheriton: the application of systematic metal detecting survey and GIS plotting​, Jasper Sandford-McFadden (University of Winchester)
  • Looking for lead: A geochemical study of lead pollutants in soils and sediments within the Roman vicus at Navio, Derbyshire, Joshua Toulson (University of Sheffield)
  • Adaptation to the environmental context: the substructures of caveae in Roman theatres in the northern-central Italy, Katerina Gottardo, (Durham University)


The CIfA Innovation festival

In January 2021 many of you attended our first Innovation festival which showcased a great variety of presentations, workshops and discussion panels all focused on the subject of innovation in archaeology. This festival was inspired by the Historic England funded project - Building capacity through innovation.

This project was commissioned to address feedback in the 2017 21st century challenges for archaeology workshop series that highlighted a lack of innovation in developer-led archaeology. The aim of the project was to explore this observation, identify the potential barriers and issues inhibiting the consistent implementation of innovative approaches and present recommendations for improvement. The report presents data related to the perceptions and experiences of those individuals and organisations working on developer-led projects across the historic environment, highlighting for discussion several barriers to innovation identified. On the whole the feedback highlighted that the sector sees itself as innovative, with a wide range of examples of different approaches included in the appendices but it was also acknowledged that improvements could be made. ​As a result the report outlines a series of further recommendations for improvement that focus on the themes of facilitating knowledge exchange and the dissemination of information across the historic environment sector.

To read the report and access the recorded sessions from the January CIfA Innovation festival see our project page


Sponsorship opportunities

With almost 500 attendees across the week of the festival, sponsorship of the Innovation festival or an individual session offers fantastic visibility to our festival audience and brand alignment with the innovative practices and approaches being undertaken across the historic environment sector. To find out more about major sponsorship of our Innovation festival or to sponsor a session, please click here to review our 2021 sponsorship brochure.


Contact us

If you do have any questions about the Innovation Festival or your session proposal, please do get in touch with us via