Thursday, 29 December 2011

Digital landscapes at Leicester

The New Year will bring new activities and this February I hope to get a WEA on digital archaeology going. I hope that enough adult learners will enrol I am myself so excited about this. It will bring together several themes I am really interested in – namely landscape archaeology, computer-assisted mapping and community archaeology.

The government is making noises about cutting red tape at the same time as it wants to empower communities. As a village resident I am waiting with horror the consequences to the already jammed rush hour traffic the new development towards Groby will bring to our village. Let’s hope that the archaeology of the area will be checked properly since I found out only after the planning consultation had started that the fields of our village have not apparently been fieldwalked and that the developer has bought the land. One can only keep eye on the progress of the plans and the safeguards that will be in place, if any. A provision for professional work by an archaeological unit will hopefully be among them.

Knowing where to look for archaeological information and how to create plans and maps with free software and free satellite images is an important asset for any office archaeologist – no matter if they are professionals, students, part of an archaeological group or just needing tools for private study. It is also important to know where to look for different archaeological organisations, such as the Council for British Archaeology or National Trust for information and networks, and if they offer any additional web content.

Leicestershire has a marvellous asset in its professional archaeologists – not the least in its community archaeologist Peter Liddle. However, with the continuous cheese slicing to cut public spending there will be only so much they can do. Naturally, the existing archaeological groups can help but often they are already very involved in different activities. Thus, it is important that those with an interest in heritage keep an eye on developments, both in technology – that can truly empower although not necessarily in the way the government wishes – and in our own backyards so that we do not lose our past. The National Trust with other organisations is already looking alarmed and probably we all have to if we want to look after the Charnwood forest and other riches in our area.

Beginners guide to archaeology and heritage will start on February 20, 2012, at 12:30pm (six two-hour sessions) with the 101 Hinckley Road branch. Fee: £40.20 (FREE for unemployed and people on benefits; T&C apply). You can get more information and enrol over the Internet [link not valid any more].

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