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ABINGDON ARCHAEOLOGICAL GEOPHYSICS

 

 

 

Historic England

 The latest reorganisation of Historic England appears to have been more drastic than most. The problem is that, unlike the Beeching railway cuts, there has been no press release or publicity and the archaeology magazines may be reluctant to use a bad news story in fear of alienating contributors upon whom they depend.

They have stopped (Spring 2018) updating the Pastscape system which mapped the location of known archaeology. They say that they are leaving it to the local authority Historic Environment Records to do the job. Moving from a single system to dozens of local systems when archaeological sites often don't respect County boundaries should have been the subject of a proper consultation, but has been done quietly. They say they have plans for a better system. The same logic would have the government closing the London to Birmingham railway line whilst they are arranging a better replacement.

We are still finding things which they have dropped. Oblique air photos used to be on open shelf access in the Historic England Records centre in Swindon - now you have to order them hours in advance. At the same time Cambridge University have  (22 February  2019) announced that they are making digital versions of their air photos available - when the Historic England Records Centre has been doing this for years.

When it comes to monitoring archaeological work, they have the Archaeology Data Service where most fieldwork reports are sent. When sites are put onto that system about 30 questions are asked concerning it - called metadata. All they have to do is make sure that the metadata questions cover the same areas as are required in the English Heritage Guidance to make sure that reports comply with the Guidance.