Fourteen years ago I walked into a room. Facing the door, illuminated by a single wire reinforced window, sat the post-16 careers guidance counsellor.

What did I want to do after sixth form?

I was thinking of studying archaeology.

The advisor stared into the distance, glanced at my CV.

Had I considered an HND in forestry?

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The Curious Incident of the Local Authority Archaeology Website: Response from Sandwell

A few days ago I wrote a blog on the changes to Sandwell MBC’s website and their removal from it of nearly all information relating to archaeology in the area. Yesterday, in several tweets, Sandwell kindly responded. I thought it seemed only fair to incorporate these into an updated blog and provide their side of the story. I’ve added my own additional questions and comments beneath each tweet.

I’m sure you are correct. Then again, it’s an easy deletion to make when you’ve made redundant everyone who could present the case for retention. Continue reading

The Curious Incident of the Local Authority Archaeology Website in the Night-Time

As some of you may remember in late September 2011 news broke that Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council was planning on sacking it’s Borough archaeologist after it declared that archaeology and heritage were “not core services to the planning service and could almost be considered to be a luxury“. 

I last wrote about Sandwell’s decision in December 2011 after the council, in an astonishing move, deemed Twitlonger an appropriate service to announce that they had cut their archaeologists.

A few months later I had a further discussion on Twitter with the leader of Sandwell MBC Councillor Darren Cooper about the nature of the consultation that occurred prior to the Council’s decision. During this I noticed that there had been some changes on the Sandwell website (read the tweets that led to this part of the conversation: 1, 2 and 3):

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The more things change…

Whilst doing a bit of research earlier I came across an article in The Observer that I missed when it was published. With continuing threats to heritage funding in the UK dominating many archaeological discussions I thought it would be worth summarising here for anyone else who didn’t see it :

“Large quantities of important archaeological material, the fruit of years of fieldwork, are at present lying, unexamined…” Continue reading

A Storified Archaeological Science Question Time

Over on Storify you can read a slightly belated review of the first ever Archaeological Science Question Time event hosted as part of the UKAS 2013 conference organised by the Department of Archaeology and Conservation at Cardiff University.

Have a read and let me know what you think!


Written by +Matt Nicholas

The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxfordshire and…a conclusion (part 4)


This is the final in a series of posts on my chapter (co-authored with Dr Dan Hicks) on Oxfordshire in the book World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum: a characterization. Conceived by Dr Dan Hicks (Curator of Archaeology) and managed by both Dan and Dr Alice Stevenson (Researcher in World Archaeology) the project involved a host of specialists examining over 30,000 objects from 134 countries in a process not too dissimilar from a  MoRPHE post-excavation assessment.

This post presents my personal thoughts on the significance and potential of the Oxfordshire archaeology collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum. It is based on notes I wrote in 2010, so some aspects are likely out of date now (particularly references to ‘big society’ and a ‘new government’). You can read my introductory thoughts here, the chapter itself here and an extended discussion on Pitt-Rivers (the man) and his work at Dorchester Dykes here. Continue reading

The Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxfordshire and…The General (part 3)


The General in the title is Lieutenant-General Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers, the extraordinary archaeologist whose vast accumulation of objects formed the founding collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum. This post deals with his work in Oxfordshire. If at any point you would like to know more about the objects you can search the Museum’s online object collections database using the accession numbers provided in the text.

This is an earlier version of the text on pages 281-5 of World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum: a characterization that expands slightly on the partial destruction of Dorchester Dykes and their role in the genesis of the 1882 Ancient Monuments Act.  I’ve decided to post this because – with the heritage sector under increasing pressure –  it can be beneficial to remember what a world without professionalization, guidance and legislative protection looked like. If you would like to cite anything here then please find what you require in the finished chapter.

You can read my introduction here, the chapter itself here and my concluding thoughts here.

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