Exploring the long-term storage of England's archaeological archives
Arts Council England (ACE) and Historic England (HE) are jointly funding a new project to assess strategic options for the ongoing issue of storing archaeological archives. The options appraisal will review existing and future capacity for archaeological archives within England, considering a full range of archive solutions and evaluating the potential of each to meet the needs of archive creators, managers and users.
The volumes of undeposited archives has dramatically increased as developer-funded excavations bring forward new discoveries on a previously unimagined scale, and access to this material for research is being hindered by a lack of suitable storage and access space. This crisis was recognised by the Mendoza Review of Museums (2017) resulting with a series of recommendations targeting the sustainability of archaeological archives. This project is a key part of the action plan led by Historic England with Arts Council England to address the long-standing challenges for archaeological archives identified by Mendoza. Further details of the Action Plan can be found here:
The overarching aim of this new project is to understand how the museum and wider archaeological sector can be best supported to ensure a sustainable model for the long-term storage of archaeological archives. Specifically, this research and options appraisal will explore what capacity already exists, review its effectiveness, identify different potential models considering future needs and benefits. The project will estimate the level of resourcing required to ensure the sustainability of options presented, providing a comprehensive report to help inform next steps.
The ambition of this project is to
The project has been commissioned and funded by Arts Council England (ACE) and Historic England (HE).
This options appraisal will help national bodies such as HE and ACE work together in identifying a workable, sustainable solution to an important issue. Creating stable and accessible archives from archaeological work is often difficult, hampered by over-stretched resources and the limitations of physical space. If that problem is removed, there will be greater opportunity to ensure that projects are able to achieve more impact, increasing public benefit and value from work undertaken in development.
We’ve had a lot of input so far from across the heritage sector, but have realised we are still a bit stumped about the question of volume. We know roughly how much archive material is out there now, how much is undepositable and what is consists of… but we are missing a key figure.
So, this super short survey is aimed at contracting organisations working across England. We are asking for an educated guess and not expecting exact figures. We know things are variable and you’re far more qualified to do the guessing than we are!
Here’s the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/YRR87TV
The survey will close on the 6th November…
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