Community Engagement with Archaeology in the

A report prepared for:
Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership
PO Box 7318
Andrew Fitzpatrick Heritage
102 Boscombe Grove Road
Report Reference: AFH Report 13/02.01
January 2013
© A.P. Fitzpatrick 2013
Community Engagement with Archaeology in the
South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership Area:
a preliminary review
This report has been prepared to provide a preliminary review of current and possible
future models of community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset
Ridgeway Landscape Partnership Area (hereafter SDRLP).
A brief for this report was agreed with the Development Officer before work
The report considers the role that the past plays in perceptions of the SDLRP area
and the level of interest in engaging with the past, and archaeology in particular. In
order to provide a focus for further engagement, some key topics for the Ridgeway
contained in the South West Archaeological Research Framework (2008) and which
community groups could work on are identified. The archaeology groups and
organisations currently active in the SDRLP area are then reviewed as are current
models of community archaeology across the UK, and how community engagement
with archaeology has been attempted in a range of Areas of Outstanding Natural
Beauty (AONB) and National Parks. In the light of this review suggestions are made
about the types of activities and projects that might be considered suitable for
community engagement in the SDRPL area and the issues and resource implications
for the SDRLP are identified. The report concludes with some recommendations.
The role that the past plays in public perceptions of the SDRLP area
The past plays an important role in shaping perceptions of the South Dorset
Ridgeway Landscape Partnership Area (hereafter ‘the Ridgeway’). The numerous
well-preserved burial mounds that stud the Ridgeway and the presence of mighty
hillforts are key elements in giving the landscape a time depth and help shape its
individual character.
The Audience Development Plan for the Ridgeway reports that in the data collected
through the 2012 Citizen Panel, the natural environment was considered to be the
most important factor contributing to a distinct local character (Resources for Change
2012, section 2.2.2). The second most important factor was the historic environment,
which is defined here as comprising the Citizen Panel survey categories of
town/village architecture, old buildings, hedgerows, and prehistoric earthworks.
The level of interest amongst the public in engaging with the past, and with
archaeology in particular, in SDRLP
In that survey 87% of people said that they would like to learn more about heritage
(Resources for Change 2012, section 4.3.2) and 31% would like to become involved
in heritage volunteering. Heritage is therefore an important concern amongst visitors
to the Ridgeway.
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
What is perceived as having heritage value is not well-defined. Broad statements
about ceremonial landscapes, while evocative, need to be developed and defined
more closely to enable activities that engage with specific audiences to be identified
and developed.
Topics in the South West Archaeological Research Framework that could be
undertaken by community archaeology groups in the SDRLP area
The South West Archaeological Research Framework is one of a series of Regional
Frameworks sponsored by English Heritage. It was produced by volunteers from all
sectors of the archaeological community including local societies.
The Framework provides i) a review of what is currently known (the Resource
Assessment), ii) the priorities for research (the Research Agenda) and iii) how those
priorities might be implemented (the Research Strategy). The Resource Assessment
and the Research Agenda were published in 2008 (Webster 2008). The draft
Research Strategy was published in 2011 and consultation on it has closed.
There are 64 Research Aims, many of which are subdivided so that the actual total of
Aims is nearer to 400. Most of these aims are either period based (e.g. ‘what effect
did the first Neolithic farming have on the landscape?’) or method based (e.g. ‘the
methods used to collect evidence for Neolithic farming and prehistoric farming in
general, need to adopt the following new techniques’). Relatively few Aims are
geographically specific and this is the case for the South Dorset Ridgeway.
It should be noted that an important new source of evidence was not available when
the Research Framework was prepared. The survey of the Ridgeway by the English
Heritage National Mapping Programme was undertaken in 2008-10 and it identified
many new sites.
The large number of Research Aims identified in the Research Agenda means that in
practice it is possible to match most possible projects with one or more Aims.
However, for the South Dorset Ridgeway three subjects that are key to the ways in
which the modern landscape is currently understood and valued may be identified.
The first two relate to the well known prehistoric monuments but the third relates to
an often overlooked period that laid the foundations for the contemporary landscape;
1. The large number of well preserved prehistoric burial mounds. These were often
sited to be prominent features in the contemporary landscape and that remains
the case today. A few of these mounds are Neolithic in date (Late Stone Age, c.
4000-2000 BC) but the great majority are Bronze Age (c. 2000-700 BC).
2. The Iron Age hillforts. Dorset as a whole has a large number of hillforts and there
are several well-preserved examples in the Ridgeway AONB. These forts date to
between 700 BC and the Roman Conquest led by Vespasian in AD 43. The
hillfort at Maiden Castle is one of the most famous prehistoric monuments in
3. The development of the medieval landscape. The medieval landscape provides
the base map for the contemporary landscape. Features that are thought to be
modern can be surprisingly old, up to 1,000 years. The settlement pattern of
villages and farms was established early in the medieval period and the patterns
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
of medieval land use meant that many Bronze Age barrows and Iron Age forts
were incorporated into it and preserved in areas of pasture.
Many remains of these sites survive as well-preserved earthworks but many have
also been destroyed and are known only though buried archaeological evidence. For
the medieval period some buildings still stand and there is also documentary
A number of Research Aims can be matched to these three key subjects;
For the prehistoric burial mounds Research Aim 54 is to ‘widen our
understanding of monumentality in the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age.’ That
is to say, why the monuments were built where they were, why in that shape,
and what they stood in relation to. This Aim is fundamental to the shaping of
the Ridgeway.
Some fundamental questions remain to be answered about the hillforts. It is
not known if all of the hillforts were occupied permanently and continuously
though their life. Or did most of the population lived in small farms and only
came to the forts in times of crisis? The emphasis is as much on the systems
that supported the hillforts, including new permanent farms and the
development of field systems, as it is on the forts (Research Aims 21 and 41).
For the medieval period the Research Aims also include fundamental
questions that link directly to the contemporary landscape of the Ridgeway.
The Aims for ‘Early medieval landscapes and territories’ includes topics such
as ‘the origins of the parish’ (Research Aim 31), ‘the location and identification
of medieval religious buildings, monuments and landscapes’ (Research Aim
32) and ‘to widen our understanding of the origins of villages’ (Research Aim
Archaeology groups and organisations active in the SDRLP area
While many people visit archaeological sites occasionally, the next steps in engaging
more actively are typically to visit museums or to join a local archaeology or history
society. This section reviews the existing opportunities to become involved in
archaeology in and around the Ridgeway. The important role of Dorset’s museums is
acknowledged but for the purposes of this report attention is focussed on
archaeology societies and other groups. As many visitors to the Ridgeway come from
elsewhere in Dorset this information is reviewed at a county scale.
By far and away the largest amateur society active in the area is the Dorset
Archaeology and Natural History Society with a membership of c. 2000. This is a
county-wide society whose interests embrace a range of subjects across the historic
and natural environments and beyond. The society runs the Dorset County Museum
in Dorchester and has a professional staff. Some of members of the society live
outside the county but have a strong interest in it, and there are also some
institutional members.
The other archaeology societies in Dorset do no not cover such a wide range of
subjects, are smaller and are based in towns (Shaftesbury, Weymouth, Wareham,
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
Wimborne and Bournemouth) (Appendix 1). The principal activity of these societies is
the organisation of lectures and visits (section 6.6 below) and to an extent these
activities are also provided by the Friends groups of local museums particularly in the
smaller towns with archaeology collections (Appendix 2). A small independent group
is run in Bridport by a professional archaeologist (Appendix 1).
Marine and maritime archaeology is a popular subject and groups with a specialist
interest in these field are the Dorset Coast Forum Archaeology Group (Weymouth),
the Poole Maritime Trust, and the Weymouth LUNAR (Land and Underwater
Archaeological Research) Society.
Historic Buildings are often a concern of the urban Civic Societies who often have
access to meetings organised by the Dorset Building Group. For more recent periods
there is also a considerable overlap with the interests of local history societies.
The Council for British Archaeology is a national umbrella organisation which has
regional groups. The SDRLP and Dorset are in the Wessex Region. A significant
proportion of the members of the regional groups are members of local societies.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme operates in England and Wales to promote the
reporting of archaeological finds. It is organised by the British Museum on behalf of
the Department of Culture Media and Sport. There is a Finds Liaison Officer for each
county in England and the Dorset Officer is located with the County Council in
Dorchester. In addition Dorset County Council operates a Metal Detectorists Liaison
Scheme. It should be noted that detectorists often visit sites beyond their home
The Portable Antiquities Scheme has worked closely with metal detector users and
the Liaison Officers regularly attend meetings of metal detecting clubs (Appendix 3),
history fairs and other related events. As such the Scheme represents the first point
of contact with archaeology and archaeologists for many people.
Excavation is still the dominant public perception of archaeology even though it forms
only a small proportion of all archaeological works undertaken in the United Kingdom.
Most archaeological work in Dorset is undertaken by commercial practices as part of
the planning process. The short lead-in time for these projects combined with
budgetary constraints result in it being unusual for volunteers to be to able to
participate in these projects. Conservation management projects can involve field
surveys and these are usually also undertaken by commercial practices. The location
and timing of these projects is dictated by the developer and/or land manager.
Research excavations are rare and in recent years most of these have been
undertaken by Bournemouth University, though several other universities have
undertaken work in the last 20 years. These are usually quite small and they combine
the research interests of the staff with the need to provide fieldwork experience for
students as a course requirement. The current ‘Durotriges Big Dig!’ at Winterbourne
Kingston, north of Bere Regis is unusual in being planned on a larger scale as
summer school, and is intended primarily for undergraduate students. In 2013 this
project will run for 4 weeks (3 - 28 June, Monday-Friday, 9am - 5pm).
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
The National Trust archaeology team undertakes small pieces of fieldwork on its
properties and there opportunities for volunteers to participate in this. Training
excavations run by professional organisations are rare, the last being on Cranborne
Chase which was organised by Wessex Archaeology and which ended in 2009.
Two amateur local societies in Dorset regularly undertake fieldwork; the East Dorset
Antiquarian Society which is based in Wimborne has traditionally worked on
Cranborne Chase on a farm owned by one of its members. The Wareham and
District Archaeological Society undertook large excavations in the 1990s in a
development context and occasionally undertakes small pieces of development work
as well as small research excavations. Much of the fieldwork of these two societies is
due to the presence of a few highly able and motivated individuals.
Archaeological fieldwork in Dorset is therefore largely undertaken in response to
developments and where research or management works are planned it is in the
context of the programme of the sponsoring body. There is no co-ordinated
programme of work across the county as whole or in the area of the SDRLP.
The Archaeology Committee of the Dorset Archaeology and Natural History Society
plays a co-ordinating role in the reporting of all fieldwork and in responding to public
consultations that involve archaeological matters.
Current models of community archaeology practised in the United Kingdom.
This information about Dorset should be seen in a wider context of public
engagement with archaeology in the United Kingdom. The term ‘community
archaeology’ is widely used to refer to the participation of ‘non-professional’
archaeologists and volunteers in archaeological projects. The origins of the term lie in
the development of archaeology as a professional discipline during the later 20th
century. The professionalisation of the discipline led to it taking on the leading role
previously played by many voluntary bodies, notably county archaeology societies, in
the 19th and earlier 20th centuries.
One aspect of this professionalisation was the perspective that the conservation and
management of the historic environment, including archaeology, was on behalf of the
community. This view echoes ones held in the wider conservation and environmental
movements. While the concept of community archaeology places a greater emphasis
on active participation in the practice of archaeology by the public, it still embodies a
disjunction between how professionals and amateurs engage with the past. It is an
issue than can cause many difficulties in engaging the public with archaeology.
A survey of community archaeology across the United Kingdom was recently
undertaken by the organisation The Council for British Archaeology. The Council
speaks on behalf o archaeology generally and the amateur sector in particular. The
results of the survey were published in 2010 and are based on the most extensive
consultation with amateur archaeological societies undertaken in the UK. The survey
included historical and other societies which undertake archaeology even if their
name might not immediately suggest that they do (Thomas 2010). For convenience
these groups are all called ‘societies’ here.
The survey represents the first ‘bottom up’ survey of public archaeology and it
provides a striking contrast with the ‘top down’ views contained in a report on
‘Participating in the Past’ that was published by a Working Party of the Council for
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
British Archaeology as recently as 2003 (Farley 2003). The 2010 report provided for
the first time a research-based assessment what amateur societies in the United
Kingdom currently do and what they would like to do.
Amongst other things, the report analysed the types of activities the societies were
involved. The principle conclusions of the survey are summarised below but it is
important to note that the survey recorded participating in activities, not necessarily
organising them. The subjects of the activity can also vary widely according to
chronological period and geographical location.
Activities undertaken
The activity most commonly undertaken by archaeology societies was organising
talks. This was done by 92% of the respondents (Table 1). The next most popular
activity was organising visits, typically to archaeological sites and/or museums. This
was followed by taking a table at history fairs or similar, recording through
photography, archival research, and organising exhibitions.
Forty-three percent (43%) of the respondents had participated in archaeological
fieldwork. Fieldwalking (the systematic collection of artefacts from the surface of
ploughed fields) was the most frequent, closely followed by excavation. The
recording of historic buildings was also popular.
Participating at History fairs
Photographic Recording
Archival Research
Organising Exhibitions
Recording Buildings
Table 1: Activities undertaken by local archaeology societies. Source: Thomas 2010.
These figures demonstrate that talks and visits were far and away the most common
activities. Photographic and archival research were more popular than fieldwork in
which less than half of the societies participated. Although the survey did not collect
data on this point, it is clear that many societies participated in fieldwork organised by
third parties. This seems to have been particularly true for excavations. Overall, there
was little difference in the popularity of surveys, excavations and recording buildings.
Activities societies would like to become involved with
The Council for British Archaeology survey also considered what societies would like
to do. There was a clear preference for being involved in survey work. The most
popular choices were:
Landscape surveys
Geophysical surveys
Topographic survey
Building recording
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
Table 2: Activities that local archaeology societies in the UK would like to become
involved in. Source: Thomas 2010.
The main barriers to broadening the range of activities that the societies undertake
were lack of training and access to equipment. In the case of excavation this is now
seen, correctly, as an activity which requires a high level of specialist input in the
reporting stage. It is also thought that it is difficult for amateur societies to access this
specialist input. These concerns deter many societies from undertaking excavations.
Returning to the Ridgeway, it should be noted while the Audience Development
Report states that there was a clear preference for people to learn more about the
heritage of the Ridgeway through active learning of a ‘hands on’ nature, for example
community archaeological digs (Resources for Change 2012, section 5.4, objective
5), the data presented in Chart 24 of the report indicates that the main preferences
for learning more were through guided walks or talks, information leaflets, and
exploring on ones own. This is consistent with the types of activities preferred by
local archaeological societies.
Community archaeology in AONBs and National Parks
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks share common concerns in
conservation and encouraging access, and the share many problems. In order to
assess what types of community archaeology has been undertaken recently in
situations comparable to that of the SDRLP, a rapid web review was undertaken of
the activities undertaken in a range of National Parks and AONBs. Two widely
separated regions were chosen, southern England and north-east England. The sites
of five National Parks and eight AONBS were consulted (Appendix 4). The South
Dorset Ridgeway Heritage Project is considered separately below in section 8.6.
This rapid review demonstrated a wide variation in the activities promoted by the
authorities. While archaeology and the historic environment was widely
acknowledged as playing an important role in creating what is special about the
areas, the emphasis placed on archaeology and heritage as individual subjects was
typically on conservation and management.
In one case (the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB) archaeology
had been used systematically as part of a Historic Landscape Characterisation
project. Here archaeological sites and features were assessed to see how they
contributed to the development of the whole landscape through time, and this time
depth was emphasised not just the special or unique sites. This work was undertaken
by professionals and was envisaged as a management tool although some selfguided trails were prepared. Exmoor National Park has produced its own Historic
Environment Research Framework, while this is a scholarly and technical document,
it also emphasises that better understanding of the resource will lead to improved
management systems and conservation. The Exmoor Framework refers to the South
West Archaeological Framework. These examples reflect the public emphasis on
conservation and management, and research.
In general, relatively few opportunities to engage with archaeology or to participate in
it were offered by the authorities. These were not necessarily all organised by the
authorities and some were promoted as part of partnership working. A good example
of this is a long running project in the Northumberland National Park where the
Breamish Valley Project is jointly run by the University of Durham, a local society (the
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
Northumbrian Archaeology Group) and the National Park. This is a legacy project
from an earlier successful project on Hillfort Heritage (partly HLF and European
funded) that secured access to some previously inaccessible hillforts, self-guided trail
leaflets and interpretation panels that link many of the most important sites in a
coherent way, and education resources.
The most common activity in which archaeology was promoted was in guided walks
in which it was one of several subjects treated in multi-disciplinary approach. There
were also a few self-guided walks. Specific events were sometimes offered as part of
the annual Festival of British Archaeology which is organised by the Council for
British Archaeology and which runs for one month each summer. Activities included
offered here included site tours (sometimes with the opportunity to visit research
excavations but not participate in them), guided walks, and children’s activities
facilitated by story tellers or re-enactors.
The North Wessex Downs AONB promoted woodland archaeology, the study of what
is hidden amongst the woods, as a community survey project. Occasionally surveys
of specific types of modern sites are undertaken, such as pill boxes and in some
cases, notably in the New Forest National Park, small community excavations were
organised as part of planning applications. The excavations were managed by
professional practices who also undertook the reporting necessary for the planning
application. The New Forest also organised a coastal survey with recreational divers,
again working under professional supervision.
The greatest number of opportunities to engage with archaeology and the
opportunities promoted most actively were in HLF-funded projects. A very successful
example of this is the ‘Altogether Archaeology’ project organised by the North
Pennines AONB where an HLF-funded pilot project in 2010-11 led to a successful bid
for 3-year project for 2012-15. Although not included in the survey, the Peak District
National Park has also undertaken extensive community work that has won national
recognition. A common factor in the success is that both authorities have
archaeological officers who manage and facilitate the work but do not necessarily
undertake the day to day running of it.
The North Pennines projects are based on modules. These are mostly site specific
pieces of fieldwork which professional archaeologists are commissioned to lead and
undertake the reporting. The sites in the modules are distributed across the AONB
and from different periods with the intent of being able to offer something for
The objectives and models of community engagement already practised or
planned in the SDRLP area
From this brief review it can be seen that the Ridgeway is typical of most AONBs and
National Parks in that little community archaeology is currently done. The most
frequent activity in the area is attending the lectures organised by local societies and
The majority of archaeological fieldwork in the SDRLP area is undertaken by
commercial practices and there are only very limited opportunities for amateurs to
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
A small number of fieldwork opportunities are provided by the National Trust (for
example their recent excavations at Golden Cap) or within the research projects
undertaken by Bournemouth University. Small amounts of fieldwork are also
undertaken by local societies based in Wareham and Wimborne and until 2010 trial
excavations on the route of Roman roads were undertaken by the small and informal
Bridport based Dorset Roman Roads Group. A rare example of conservation
management (not just in the SDRLP) is the restoration of the Osmington White
Horse, the improved access to it, and the agreement of a management plan. The
work was initiated and undertaken by the community aided by good professional
Other opportunities are provided by the National Trust, events at English Heritage
guardianship sites, and by the staff of Historic Environment Team of Dorset County
Council. The Dorset Archaeology Committee organises an extensive annual
programme of guided walks across the county (Dorset Archaeological Days).
However, the location, nature and timing of these activities and events are not coordinated.
A good and successful recent example of what can be achieved in a community
archaeology project is the South Dorset Ridgeway Heritage Project which was run by
the Dorset AONB in 2008-11 and funded by HLF and Natural England. As
summarised in the end of project report and evaluation (Dorset AONB 2011), the
project had four aims;
The first, ‘Celebration’ promoted the appreciation of the archaeological heritage of
the Ridgeway though; art exhibitions and events, a new guidebook, historic reenactment events, talks and lectures, storytelling, guided walks, and an event; the
2010 South Dorset Ridgeway Festival.
The second strand promoted ‘Learning’ by enabling schools to use the Ridgeway in
teaching the National Curriculum. This was done by providing teaching resource
boxes, learning resources, support for school trips, outreach sessions and teacher
The third strand ‘Research’ involved survey and protection of monuments. This was
delivered though surveys carried out by Bournemouth University and volunteers, the
publication of the results, and collecting oral history.
The fourth strand, ‘Access’ enabled better access by publishing circular works, two
audio trails, palm pilot guided trails, a new website, new waymarks along the routes
of the trails, and the research and publication of village maps.
This range of activities represents what might be expected in a good recent
community archaeology project. They also demonstrate that it is possible to
approach audience development without undertaking much archaeological fieldwork.
The only observation that need be made here is that the project provided relatively
few opportunities for the range of fieldwork activities that the Council for British
Archaeology survey (which had not been undertaken when the project was planned)
indicates that local societies would like to participate in.
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
The types of activities and Research Projects that might be considered suitable
for community engagement in the SDRPL area
It is clear that there is potential to improve the first steps in enabling the public to
engage with archaeology by providing more walks, talks and events and this is not
considered further here. Instead, having briefly reviewed the types of community
archaeology generally undertaken and in AONBs and National Parks in particular it is
possible to return to the three subjects that were identified in Section 4 above as key
to the ways in which the modern landscape is currently understood and valued.
Those subjects were prehistoric burial mounds, prehistoric hillforts, and medieval
villages and their landscapes. The remains of these monuments are widely and
readily visible.
The Research Aims in the South West Archaeological Research Framework are
specific to chronological periods but they are linked by a desire to improve the
understanding of why certain sites were created where they were, and how they
related to other contemporary sites. For example, in the Bronze Age why was a
particular place chosen to build burial mounds, and where had the people who were
buried in them lived?
These questions are essentially about the importance of places and as such they are
well suited to projects for community engagement as they focus as much on a sense
of place rather than a detailed technical understanding of the archaeological
evidence for a given period. The exact details of these questions (and of course
others) can be matched to particular groups but at a broad level the questions have a
strong correlation with the topics considered in the Audience Development Plan
(Resources for Change 2012). The answers can be developed over several stages of
work which will allow participants to develop their engagement to their own levels.
The questions can be addressed initially by trying to understand the landscape
around individual sites or group of sites. This could, for example, involve visiting the
site, compiling and reviewing what evidence there is for those sites and others in the
neighbourhood (e.g. archaeological remains, buildings or documentary records),
considering the views from and the view to the sites, the location of suitable
agricultural land, and , where appropriate, their suitability as defensive locations.
The training requirements for these types of activity are mainly clear briefings which
can be delivered in workshop format and access to (and understanding of) mapping.
They do not require specialist equipment or detailed specialist or technical
knowledge but the individual studies can contribute to a bigger picture.
The results of this work might include photomontages/panoramas, maps of potential
land use and catchment areas, village and parish maps and accompanying reports.
Although these outputs are quite simple it is also possible to use them in more
complex ways, for example by undertaking viewshed analyses of barrows or forts.
Irrespective of the types of analysis undertaken, the result of such studies should be
readily intelligible to a wide audience as they already have some understanding of
the subject matter and value its contribution to making the Ridgeway.
This work might then be developed into a second stage that could involve more
systematic and detailed surveys such as topographic survey, geophysical surveys,
standing building surveys and documentary surveys. Again these studies can be
undertaken as individual projects that can contribute to a bigger picture about the
Ridgeway. It would be possible to develop further stages of work. These might for
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
example involve looking at finds from old excavations or organising new small-scale
As stated above projects can be matched to groups and locations when the exact
details can be established. It should be noted, however, that all Scheduled
Monuments, which are protected by law, require permission in the form of Scheduled
Monument Clearance not only for excavation but also geophysical survey. This
clearance is now obtained through English Heritage. Most of the prehistoric barrows
and all of the hillforts in the SDRLP are Scheduled Monuments.
The issues and resource implications for the SDRLP of community
engagement with archaeology in SDRLP area
Successful community engagement with archaeology requires effective partnership
working. As shown in sections 6 and 7 above, another prerequisite is adequately
resourced support from heritage professionals. This is needed to provide the correct
preliminary information, to deliver the necessary training at the appropriate time and
to provide support and expertise. Ideally this would also involve securing the
necessary permissions from landowners and farmers for access.
However, much of the care and support that should be offered to groups and
individuals does not require specialist heritage knowledge.
The SDRLP should consider whether to develop existing audiences and match a
choice of possible projects to them, or whether to develop projects and then try and
attract audiences to them. The two approaches are not mutually exclusive.
Taking the first approach will take longer and will require the establishment of
programmes of talks, walks, trails and events. The survey by the Council for British
Archaeology (Thomas 2010) clearly demonstrates that at a national level these are
the most popular ways of engaging with archaeology and the evidence from the
South Dorset Ridgeway Heritage Project is consistent with this.
The second is in some ways easier to achieve but will very probably engage a
smaller audience, as is demonstrated by the evaluation of the South Dorset
Ridgeway Heritage Project.
In either situation the longer-term impact and sustainability of any work after projectfunding has ended should be considered.
This report has summarised the current provision of community archaeology in the
SDRLP and placed in a wider context. Drawing on the recent South West
Archaeological Research Framework some simple but bold research questions that
can be addressed effectively by community archaeology have been identified. The
overriding emphasis on a sense of place means that these questions may be
addressed by many groups working independently or in partnership. Just as
importantly the importance of the research should be readily understood by a wider
audience who appreciate the contribution that the archaeological remains make to
the Ridgeway landscape.
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
The programme is already set for the imminent Round 2 HLF submission but at the
delivery stage the SDRLP may wish to review the opportunities for community
engagement with archaeology that will be offered by Partners. This review might
The strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of this provision should be
assessed against the known preferences for community archaeology activities.
Attention given to how existing archaeology activities might be coordinated,
planned and publicised to potential SDRLP audiences and participants more
The opportunities for integrating archaeology and heritage more generally with
activities delivered for other disciplines (e.g. ecology) should be reviewed. If
closer interdisciplinary working is considered possible, the training requirements
necessary to achieve this should be defined.
If members of the SDRLP and stakeholders are willing and able to participate in
developing community engagement with archaeology. Their capacity to
participate and the constraints on that should be clearly established to ensure a
shared understanding.
Existing groups of volunteers within SDRLP should be asked if they would like to
develop their own local archaeology projects along the lines of those set out in
sections 7-9 above with professional support. This may have cost implications.
Feedback from people interested in participating in community archaeology
activities should be gathered. The current uses of heritage and archaeology are
of limited use in developing bespoke activities. Feedback will provide greater
clarity about what really interests people. This feedback could be gathered as
part of a public meeting that showcases the archaeology and environment of the
Ridgeway. It is recognised that the programme for the first two years of the
Landscape Partnership is set but feedback could be gathered to assist in
developing the detailed programmes for Years 3-5.
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty 2011, South Dorset Ridgeway Heritage
Project 2008-2011. Final report and evaluation, Dorchester, Dorset Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty:
Farley, M. (ed.), 2003, Participating in the Past. The results of an investigation by a
Council for British Archaeology Working Party chaired by Mike Farley, York, Council
for British Archaeology:
Resources for Change 2012, South Dorset Ridgeway Audience Development Plan,
Llanymynech, Unpublished report by Resources for Change for Dorset Area of
Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Thomas, S., 2010, Community Archaeology in the UK recent findings, York, Council
for British Archaeology:
Webster, C.J. (ed.), 2008, The Archaeology of South West England. South West
Archaeological Research Framework, Resource Assessment and Resource Agenda,
Taunton, Somerset County Council:
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
Appendix 1
Amateur Societies in Dorset either devoted to or with an interest in
Avon Valley Archaeological Society
Bournemouth Local Studies Group, Bournemouth
Bournemouth Natural Science Society, Bournemouth
Bridport History Society
Christchurch Antiquarians
Christchurch History Society
Dorchester Association
Dorset Coast Forum Archaeology Group, Weymouth
Dorset Building Group, Swanage
Dorset Industrial Archaeology Society, Dorchester
Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, Dorchester
Dorset Roman Roads Group, Bridport
East Dorset Antiquarian Society, Wimborne
Gillingham Local History Society
Langton Matravers Local History and Preservation Society
Poole Maritime Trust, Poole
Shaftesbury and District Archaeological Society, Shaftesbury
South Wessex Archaeological Association, Bournemouth
Wareham and District Archaeology and Local History, Wareham
Weymouth LUNAR (Land and Underwater Archaeological Research) Society,
Xcavate!, Bridport
Appendix 2
Museums in Dorset with archaeology collections
Beaminster Museum
Blandford Town Museum
Bournemouth Natural Science Society, Bournemouth
Bridport Museum
Core Castle Museum
Dorset County Museum (Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society)
Gillingham Museum
Gold Hill Museum and Garden, Shaftesbury
Langton Matravers Parish Museum
Lyme Regis Museum
Poole Museum
Priest’s House Museum and Garden, Wimborne
Red House Museum and Gardens, Christchurch (run by Hampshire Museums
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth
Sherborne Museum
Swanage Museum and heritage Centre
Wareham Town Museum
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review
Appendix 3
Metal Detector Clubs in Dorset
Bournemouth Detecting Club, Bournemouth
Dorset Detector Group, Bournemouth
Stour Valley Search and Recovery Club, Wimborne
Weymouth and Portland metal Detecting Club, Weymouth
In addition metal detector users may be members of the Federation of Independent
Appendix 4
Websites of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks consulted
National Parks
Dartmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park
New Forest National Park
Northumberland National Park
South Downs National Park
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
North Pennine Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Community engagement with archaeology in the South Dorset Ridgeway Landscape Partnership area:
a preliminary review