Sunday, 5 July 2015

Festival of Archaeology in Britain – why not in all countries

If anybody has followed by Facebook sharings, they will know that I quite regularly share items on Syria – for obvious reasons. Little did I know how important archaeology was going to be when I scribed those words back in 2012. However, since my current research is mainly on the northern side of the Mediterranean, I cannot articulate anything any better than has been done just a few days ago in the Conflict Antiquities blog. Read it and spare a thought to those trying to salvage something in very difficult circumstances and propaganda videos a plenty.

Nevertheless, I noted yesterday that the Head of the Council of the British Archaeology tweeted that he will be in Leicester at the University to the regional launch in Leicestershire of the Festival of Archaeology, to go national on July 11. Facing the house looking like a dump and the weekly shop and having to go around with my son, I decided to let the matter be and just try to attend the final open day in the Bradgate Park next weekend, coinciding with the national launch. After being away for much of the early year, I have to give some time to more mundane matters while not knowing what the future holds – even if those floors look actually worse after mopping them!

Rare occasion: Castle Hill open - for the Festival, too?

Nevertheless, the beginning of the Festival got Phil to ask about any Festival in Finland. I had to say that there is no such thing, even if public archaeology is becoming more visible with the events such as the public excavations at Jokiniemi near Helsinki with the Heureka Science Centre, restarted after a long break last year, and at the Kierikki centre in the north. The contemporary research such as the excavations at the last hanging site in Oulu, the activities of the Museums at Tampere or the study of the near past as with the Lapland's Dark Heritage project, revisiting the Lapland war tap to the localised interest. However, archaeology has never been in the common consciousness as in Britain and Time Team was shown on a minor channel. A dedicated archaeology TV series was not a huge success, as far as I have heard.

It is also worth remembering that the number of professional with proper jobs is low, so one cannot expect them to have time to do everything during their working and spare time. I have heard that the enthusiastic hobbyists, such as the metal detectiorists, would like an instant reply – something they have got used to in their online lives and feel slightly disappointed when the thirst of knowledge cannot be fulfilled during the weekend. The numbers of events vary greatly in different counties in Britain, too. Living in Leicestershire and seeing Peter Liddle carrying the can constantly, even if not been employed as a county community archaeologist for ages, and The University department having been invigorated by Richard III gives us a slightly warped view to the situation in Britain.

A Festival of Archaeology in Finland? Perhaps it would help with the sweeping budget cuts that can be predicted to cultural activities...

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