Community Archaeology Comes of Age

DigVentures RO Certifificate

Distilling the essence of the entrepreneurial spirit, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman described starting a new business as ‘like throwing yourself off a cliff and assembling the plane on the way down.’

If that’s the case, then this week saw DigVentures bolt our wings firmly into place as we became the first community-focused Registered Organisation with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.  We met up with the Chair of the CIfA RO committee, Gerry Wait, at the Royal Society for the Arts to get our shiny new certificate. Chuffed!

So what is an CIfA Registered Organisation?

For a company that counts disco lights and a sound system as essential archaeological kit, owns a pop-up-pub licensed to sell beer (real ale, obviously), and was recently endorsed by the Lonely Planet as one of the 52 best cultural weekends in Europe, you might well ask: why is becoming a Registered Organisation is such a big deal?

Simply because when it comes to quality assurance, the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists are the only show in town. The scheme guarantees the highest professional standards, ensuring that anyone wishing to commission an archaeological company can expect an ethical, quality-assured service.

This is particularly important when archaeological work is required as part of a planning condition, as poor-quality advice and work can damage delicate deposits, causing costly delays for landowners, developers and the public. That’s why you’ll see the IfA RO ‘Kite Mark’ displayed so proudly by some of the most established, blue-chip archaeology companies in the UK: it means that they’re continually assessed, professionally endorsed and fully accountable. In archaeology – as in life – you get what you pay for; but archaeology, once it’s been done, cannot be undone. It’s vitally important to get it right.

A new dawn for Community Archaeology

DigVentures’ crowdfunded and crowdsourced approach is different from other CIfA Registered organisations undertaking archaeology as part of the planning system, but at the heart of our enterprise is the same commitment to be the best archaeologists we possibly can.

That’s why we were so committed to becoming an RO, undergoing a rigorous inspection of our sites, reports and recording systems. And that’s why we are doubly proud to be the first, and only, community-focused organisation to have been awarded RO status. Of course, there are plenty of other RO’s that also do community archaeology in addition to their planning-led work, but our company constitution declares this work as our core purpose, and we bring that commitment to every project we deliver. Open days? Sure, we’ve done a few. Outreach events? Why not. We love a cup of tea, a biccie and a good natter in the local village hall as much as the next guy. But we’re bringing the full value of our attention to new, creative, innovative and exciting ways to involve communities in archaeological work. Be there or be square.

What sets DigVentures apart is the combination of our unique approach to community participation with rigorous, quality assured archaeological fieldwork

So that’s the wings sorted. As for the engines? Well that’s all down to our crowdsourced Venturers, of course!

DigVentures CIfA  Registered Organisation

Want to find our more? Read our welcome remarks to the Institute published in The Archaeologist magazine last month here…

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DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Become a DigVentures Subscriber and be part of great archaeology - all year round!

Brendon Wilkins

Written by Brendon Wilkins

Co-founder and Projects Director at DigVentures, Brendon heads up our field and post-ex team. Aside from field archaeology, his specialisms are cheese, tea and writing animatedly about himself in the third person.

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