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Archaeology, the Public and the Recent Past

Archaeology, the Public and the Recent Past

Volume: 7
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Archaeology, the Public and the Recent Past
    Book Description:

    Heritage, memory, community archaeology and the politics of the past form the main strands running through the papers in this volume.The authors tackle these subjects from a range of different philosophical perspectives, with many drawing on the experience of recent community, commercial and other projects. Throughout, there is a strong emphasis on both the philosophy of engagement and with its enactment in specific contexts; the essays deal with an interest in the meaning, value and contested nature of the recent past and in the theory and practice of archaeological engagements with that past. Chris Dalglish is a lecturer in archaeology at the University of Glasgow. Contributors: Julia Beaumont, David Bowsher, Terry Brown, Jo Buckberry, Chris Dalglish, James Dixon, Audrey Horning, Robert Isherwood, Robert C Janaway, Melanie Johnson, Siân Jones, Catriona Mackie, Janet Montgomery, Harold Mytum, Michael Nevell, Natasha Powers, Biddy Simpson, Matt Town, Andrew Wilson

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-129-0
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Archaeologists, Power and the Recent Past
    (pp. 1-10)
    Chris Dalglish

    This volume arises from the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology conference Engaging the Recent Past: Public, Political Post-Medieval Archaeology (Glasgow, September 2010). The focus of the conference was the contemporary context of post-medieval archaeology: the values, politics and ethics associated with the recent past, and the practices through which we engage with and construct that past. Contributors to the conference considered these issues in relation to the post-medieval and contemporary archaeologies of the U.K., Ireland and a number of other countries, and they promoted positions founded in a variety of philosophical, political and practice traditions.

    The conference sought to recognise two...

  6. PART ONE Constructing Memories, Constructing Communities

    • Open-Air Museums, Authenticity and the Shaping of Cultural Identity: An Example from the Isle of Man
      (pp. 13-34)
      Catriona Mackie

      What is widely believed to be the world’s first open-air folk museum was opened at Skansen in Sweden in 1891. It was the brainchild of Artur Hazelius who, in 1873, had founded the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm, which exhibited examples of folklife from around the country. It was Hazelius’s desire that the Nordiska Museet be ‘of benefit to science and at the same time arouse and fuel feelings of patriotism’, as well as ‘contribute to the strengthening of national feeling generation after generation, infusing love of one’s country … among young and old’.¹ This was a nationalism not of politics,...

    • Loyal yet Independent: Archaeological Perspectives on Remembering and Forgetting World War I on the Isle of Man
      (pp. 35-54)
      Harold Mytum

      The Isle of Man is an independent Crown Dependency, with the Queen as head of state and an ambivalent and at times uncomfortable relationship with the British government. In the early 20th century the Lieutenant Governor was a powerful and significant figure on the island, balancing and indeed controlling the powers of the Tynwald parliament. From 1902 the Lieutenant Governor was Lord Raglan, who had come from the post of Under Secretary for War and been a major organiser of the Boer War campaigns. He was an intensely conservative figure, charming to those in his circle but with firm views...

    • Public Engagement at Prestongrange: Reflections on a Community Project
      (pp. 55-64)
      Melanie Johnson and Biddy Simpson

      Prestongrange is an open air colliery museum managed by East Lothian Council and located between Musselburgh and Prestonpans (Fig. 3.1) in East Lothian, Scotland. It has a lengthy and highly significant social and economic past. Standing remains of the 19th-century colliery and 20th-century brickworks dominate the site but it also had a historically-attested earlier life associated with the pottery and glass-making industries, which had taken place here adjacent to a thriving harbour.¹

      The Prestongrange Community Archaeology Project was set up in 2004 to explore the site’s earlier history, and it was completed in 2010.² The project was developed and co-ordinated...

    • Archaeology for All: Managing Expectations and Learning from the Past for the Future – the Dig Manchester Community Archaeology Experience
      (pp. 65-76)
      Michael Nevell

      This paper provides an overview of a five-year project that began life under the banner of ‘I Dig Moston’ in 2003 and finished as ‘Dig Manchester’ in 2008. Two seasons of highly successful community excavations at the site of Moston Hall in Broadhurst Park, northern Manchester, encouraged both the volunteers and professionals involved to apply for Heritage Lottery funding to deliver community archaeology across the city from 2005 to 2008 (Fig. 4.1). Through Dig Manchester, local residents, school children and community groups worked alongside professional archaeologists from the university of Manchester Archaeological unit and the Manchester Museum on a programme...

    • Rediscovering, Preserving and Making Memories at Community Archaeology Projects
      (pp. 77-92)
      Robert Isherwood

      Collective memory is a central component within the construction of community groups. Olick and Robbins¹ have argued that ‘collective memory is the active past that forms our identities’ and Samuel² has identified memory as being a dynamic, active, shaping force. Within individual community archaeology projects it is possible to identify the ‘rediscovery’ of memories as the motivating desire behind the instigation of the project in the first instance. Within my PhD thesis I proposed a relational view of community archaeology and argued that community archaeology concerns the relationship between communities and the materiality of their places.³ Interestingly, there appears to...

  7. PART TWO Engaging the Past, Engaging the Present

    • Politics, Publics and Professional Pragmatics: Re-Envisioning Archaeological Practice in Northern Ireland
      (pp. 95-110)
      Audrey Horning

      Public and community archaeologies clearly have their deepest roots in places characterised by structural, societal inequities, and in situations where archaeologists have sought to be inclusive. As such, community archaeology has been generally theorised within a postcolonial, post-processual framework whereby we as scholars and trained professionals question our own position and our right to talk about the past of ‘other people’, often disenfranchised people. As characterised by Gemma Tully, the principal rationale for community archaeology is that ‘better archaeology can be achieved when more diverse voices are involved in the interpretation of the past.’¹ The best of these new inclusive...

    • Archaeology, Politics and Politicians, or: Small p in a Big P World
      (pp. 111-124)
      James Dixon

      The phrase ‘archaeology is a political act’¹ is oft repeated, but as with any such definitive phrase when used in academia each word of it has multiple meanings. For instance ‘is’. Well, it is not always. Archaeology can be a political act and archaeology sometimes is a political act, but this is not a universal truth. Likewise, the word archaeology can be taken different ways itself. There is academic archaeology, private sector archaeology, public archaeology, uses of archaeology in the heritage industry and so on, all intrinsically connected, but each with nuances different enough to render universality meaningless.

      In this...

    • ‘No Certain Roof but the Coffin Lid’: Exploring the Commercial and Academic Need for a High Level Research Framework to Safeguard the Future of the Post-Medieval Burial Resource
      (pp. 125-144)
      Natasha Powers, Andrew S. Wilson, Janet Montgomery, David Bowsher, Terry Brown, Julia Beaumont and Robert C. Janaway

      Dramatic developments in manufacturing, mining and transportation precipitated by the Industrial Revolution brought irreversible cultural and socio-economic change to Britain. Thousands of ordinary people experienced profound changes, their life experiences and personal stories etched into their physical remains and threaded through the trappings of their death. The pressures of modern development mean that many recent burials are disinterred from their ‘final’ resting place and reburied elsewhere. The research value of post-medieval burial assemblages was recognised only relatively recently,² and this has undoubtedly influenced the strategic approach to planning and excavation. Harding³ identified the publication in English of Philippe Ariès’ work...

    • ‘Men That Are Gone … Come Like Shadows, So Depart’: Research Practice and Sampling Strategies for Enhancing Our understanding of Post-Medieval Human Remains
      (pp. 145-162)
      Andrew S Wilson, Natasha Powers, Janet Montgomery, Jo Buckberry, Julia Beaumont, David Bowsher, Matthew Town and Robert C. Janaway

      In common with the paper by Powers et al. (this volume) on the need for a high-level research framework for the post-medieval burial resource, this paper presents an aspirational viewpoint rather than the results of any comprehensive public consultation. We stress the need for a greater openness amongst all stakeholders concerned with the archaeology of the recent past. We detail the approaches taken by scientists, working alongside human osteologists and archaeologists, and the benefits that this work can bring in terms of integrating information that is otherwise lost to future generations. Although efforts have recently been made to clarify the...

    • Dialogues Between Past, Present and Future: Reflections on Engaging the Recent Past
      (pp. 163-176)
      Siân Jones

      In his seminal work, The Past is a Foreign Country, David Lowenthal not only captures the inseparable nature of past and present, but also advocates that we embrace the production of a useable past in a shifting present. Today, few archaeologists would dispute that our understandings of the past are a product of the present. Moreover, most accept that archaeology is a public concern with political, ethical and social implications in wider society. Indeed, as this volume demonstrates, they actively seek to produce an engaged and engaging past. Yet this has not always been the case. For much of the...

  8. INDEX
    (pp. 177-180)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 181-181)