We know that this is an incredibly stressful and uncertain time for our industry and want to offer our support where we can. We have been contacted by a few members about the effects that the coronavirus pandemic is already having, or has the potential to have, on working practices across the historic environment sector. As a result, we thought it would be useful to share the following advice related to the potential impacts on working practices and concerns related to adherence to the CIfA Standards and guidance.
The Standard vs the guidance
The measures that are being put into place to contain coronavirus will have a significant impact on how archaeologists carry out their work. In terms of the CIfA standards and guidance we would remind members that although compliance with the Standard (the paragraph at the top of all the S&G documents) is mandatory, deviation from the guidance is acceptable if circumstances require it.
Meeting the CIfA guidance and communication
In instances where deviation is unavoidable, we would encourage you to closely consult with your local authority archaeologist and to consider what alternative options could be appropriate, for example delaying the work or changing methodology/approach for the best project outcome.
In circumstances where this is not possible and in order to meet the CIfA guidance you should clearly document the reasons for a specific deviation (ie not being able to access a particular source of information as part of a desk-based assessment) so that clients and others are aware of the limitations of the work in fulfilling its aims and objectives. As a reminder, and using desk-based assessments as an example, the Standard and guidance for historic environment desk-based assessment states
3.3.6 The archaeologist undertaking desk-based assessment should consider all appropriate sources of information and give an assessment of their relevance and reliability. All sources consulted should be listed in the report, whether or not they have been productive. All other potentially relevant sources which have not been consulted should be listed and the reasons for not consulting them given. The report should contain a full discussion of the implications of the choice of sources consulted in relation to the reliability of the conclusions reached
However, to reiterate please do consult with your local authority archaeologist and consider what alternative options could be appropriate.
Good practice examples/tips for sharing
Have you had to amend your practice already as a result of coronavirus? Do you have any examples, tips, advice, different approaches, resources or solutions that you would be willing to share? We are collating information to share across our networks in the days and weeks ahead to try and help and guide our organisations, members and volunteers.
Please do get in touch if you have anything you can share or if you have any specific concerns or queries by replying to this message (firstname.lastname@example.org)