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Keeping the past public

The findings of archaeological investigations which developers must fund on possible heritage sites should be made more easily available to maximise their value to society according to new research by LSE London.

The research carried out on behalf of the Southport Group of archaeologists focussed on the market for commercial archaeological services in the context of the English planning system. This requires developers to involve archaeologists in planning decisions for sites of potential archaeological interest.

The report analysed both the costs of these services –  in terms of archaeological surveys and the production of records – and the benefits to developers themselves, to local communities, the economy and to our cultural heritage as well as to future generations. 

The research looks at how these benefits could be measured and suggests ways these benefits might be enhanced and made more readily available. 

Professor Christine Whitehead, one of the researchers, said: "What is really valuable about archaeological artefacts is the information they embody, not the objects themselves. And this information should not just end up in 'dusty' academic journals, but be more publicly accessible."

The researchers suggest that these kinds of archaeological investigations should place a greater emphasis on public outreach by, for example, allowing access to sites and artefacts.

Kathleen Scanlon, the lead researcher, said: "The amount of material produced by development-related excavations is causing increasing problems for museums, which are running out of space to store it. With a little imagination these archives could, for example, be an enormous resource for local communities and schools."

The report An economic analysis of the market for archaeological services in the planning process, was launched at the start of Festival of British Archaeology. The Minister for Heritage, John Penrose, who spoke at the launch,stressed the importance of maintaining the planning requirement that sites should be subject to this type of archaeological audit.

An economic analysis of the market for archaeological services in the planning process |

LSE London|

14 July 2011

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