Projects Update

There are several projects currently underway that CIfA are either leading on or collaborating on that focus on different aspects of professional archaeological practice. These are summarised below and further updates will be circulated when available. If you have any queries please contact Jen Parker Wooding

Desk-based assessment workshops 'What's going wrong with desk-based assessments?'

This workshop series is coming to an end in December with the final workshop taking place in Manchester on 13 December 2019 – book your place here. Workshops have so far been held in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh attended by just under 200 professionals from across the historic environment sector to discuss desk-based assessments, any issues related to professional practice and the content and wording of the Standard and guidance for desk-based assessments. A survey was also circulated to the CIfA membership to gather additional feedback – if you would like to complete this there is still time  - see here. Once the workshops are complete, the feedback and notes will be collated and the next steps with regards to any potential changes to the Standard and guidance will be discussed. Updates will be circulated when available.

Building capacity through innovation

This project is funded by Historic England and aims to build sector capacity by identifying barriers to the adoption of innovative techniques/technology. Working with the Association of Local Government Archaeologists (ALGAO), it will support historic environment professionals who commission, specify and monitor archaeological work to promote innovative approaches to maximise the benefits of their work to society. The lack of innovation in professional practice was identified as part of the 21st century Challenges for Archaeology series of workshops in 2017. Proposed actions included identifying opportunities to promote change and innovation within the profession, strengthening links with regional research frameworks, identifying innovation case studies for further promotion/publication and further consideration of how barriers to greater collaboration and sharing of innovative approaches can be overcome. This project responds directly to those recommendations and updates will be shared as soon as they’re available.

Mapping the sector

Funded by Historic England and jointly run by CIfA and ALGAO, this project will map the archaeology sector, to better understanding its structure and needs in relation to the provision of specialist advice. It will identify further opportunities for alignment of ALGAO and CIfA’s work, supporting both organisations to be more efficient, effective and resilient in the future.  

The 21st century Challenges for Archaeology series of workshops in 2017 included workshops on potential future roles for local authority archaeology services and on Standards and guidance, identifying challenges around the (potentially confusing) range of professional Standards, advice and guidance and around a lack of clear definition on ‘who does what’.  Proposed actions included reviewing current advocacy priorities in respect of local authorities and agreeing a joint plan of action, producing clear and concise guidance on ‘who does what’ and what is delivered covering legislation, policy and service delivery, defining ‘who does what’ in relation to standards and guidance, both producing and enforcing. This project responds directly to those recommendations and also to internal conversations between ALGAO and CIfA.

Developing a Finds Reporting Standards Toolkit for grey literature

This project is funded by Historic England and is being led by Louise Rayner (Archaeology South-East) with the support of the CIfA Finds Group committee and CIfA/HE colleagues. The project aims to produce a Toolkit to improve standards in finds reporting, encompassing several recommendations made by the Historic England funded project Review of the Standard of Reporting on Archaeological Artefacts in England (Cattermole 2017). The survey undertaken for this project demonstrated great variation in the content and quality of specialist artefact reports and highlighted several areas that require improvement. The current project proposes the creation of a nationally recognised Toolkit to aid in the planning, writing and monitoring of finds reports predominately for use within developer-led archaeology and particularly for the creation of grey literature reports. A consultation on the draft Toolkit will be circulated to members over the few weeks for comment.

Re-imagining Scottish Archaeology: structures, delivery and funding: workshop series

Historic Environment Scotland are funding the organisation of three workshops due to take place in November and December in Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow with the aim of generating new ideas about the structure, funding and delivery of archaeology in Scotland. These are being organised by CIfA on behalf of Scotland’s Strategic Archaeology Committee (SSAC) in line with Aim One - Delivering Archaeology of Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy. The topics of discussion that will frame the agenda at each workshop will focus on structure, funding and delivery and will be supported by case study presentations. A series of written think pieces will be circulated in early November and followed by an online discussion opportunity using Twitter as the platform. These early discussions will be used to help frame the workshop agendas. Further information and the finalised workshop outlines will be available soon but please do save the dates now if you’re interested in attending.

Digital Archives in Archaeology

The question of how to handle digital archives has been a hot topic for archaeology for years and now forms the focus of the Digital Archives in Archaeology project. DigVentures have been commissioned by Historic England to develop guidance for anyone working with digital data in archaeological projects. The guidance forms part of the Archaeological Archives Forum’s ongoing series of practice guides for archives management aimed at practitioners. As part of the project, recommendations have also been made to update CIfA’s Standards and guidance to ensure consistency between practice guidance and regulation. As part of Historic England’s response to the 2017 Mendoza review, DCMS were urged to ‘welcome and endorse guidance... that relieves museums of the expectation that they should attempt to curate digital material from archaeological projects in favour of their deposition in a Trusted Digital Repository that will guarantee the preservation and accessibility of digital material’. To support this recommendation, the need was recognised to provide clear guidance for practitioners which work alongside industry standards and are supported across the sector. The Digital Archives in Archaeology project was initiated by the Archaeological Archives Forum to provide such guidance and encourage the consistent and robust management of digital data in archaeology. Updates on the progress of this project and the guidance will be circulated soon. In the meantime, see the DigVentures webpage for more information.

Write Here! Write Now!

At the CIfA 2018 conference in Brighton a session entitled ‘Write here Write now (Drafting a CIfA report standard)’ took place. This was co-organised by Edmund Lee (HE) and Steward Bryant (Independent consultant) and was focused on formulating new guidance for Evaluation and Watching Brief reports, that would either replace parts of the current guidance sections of the relevant Standard and guidance documents or be presented as a Professional Practice Paper supporting the implementation of the guidance. Several regional and national research projects including the Upper Thames Valley mapping project, Fields of Britannia, EngLaID and the Roman Rural Settlement Project have identified issues with the quality of grey literature which the proposed report templates and changes to the wording of the Standard for Evaluation and Watching briefs hopes to address. The current project is being led by Edmund Lee (HE) and Steward Bryant (Independent consultant) with support from CIfA and HE colleagues. An advance consultation on the report templates was recently circulated for comment to the CIfA Advisory Council, ALGAO and FAME. The comments from these are being reviewed at the moment before a wider consultation of members is circulated later this year.