Marsh Awards for Community Archaeology 2021
This year, the Marsh Awards for Community Archaeology recognised projects that have helped people to keep participating in archaeology safely and enjoyably, while responding to the pandemic in a creative or imaginative way. Nominated projects were either new initiatives, planned from scratch after March 2020, or existing projects which have had to be rethought and delivered differently as a result of the pandemic. They are projects that have the aim of enabling a wide range of people to engage with archaeology and broadening understanding of the historic environment.
There will be two categories of Awards:
- Best Volunteer-Led Project: for projects not involving anyone acting in a paid capacity
- Best Project with Paid Support: for projects which have input from anyone acting in a paid capacity
Fridaythorpe, Fimber, Wetwang Archaeology Project (FFWAP) , Mesolithic Deeside Project, CAER Heritage: The Hidden Hillfort Project and Inverkeithing Burgh Survey 2021
Marsh Award for Best Volunteer Led Project
Winner – Fridaythorpe, Fimber, Wetwang Archaeology Project (FFWAP)
During the pandemic, FFWAP undertook archaeological activities for people of all physical capabilities in a COVID safe manner. Volunteers were involved in the Ladygraves excavation near York and a drainage design company volunteered to geo-reference the site of the project. The FFWAP contributed to the community and to individual’s well-being throughout the pandemic, encouraging and developing skills (drawing, writing, 3D photography) and providing company for those who were lonely whilst ensuring social distancing was adhered to. The site provided physical and mental stimulation for a Fimber resident with Parkinson’s disease and they also held a socially distanced surprise 60th birthday gathering for this resident. The project contributed to broadening understanding of the historic environment of the local area, with continued landscape surveying, substantiating and adding to the archaeological picture.
Highly Commended – Mesolithic Deeside Project
Work throughout 2020 on this project was undertaken in a completely voluntary capacity by locals, students and archaeologists who were investigating the earliest settlement along the River Dee in Aberdeenshire. The group was set up in 2017 with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund and its activities include lectures, lithic identification, workshops and stands at local agricultural shows. Fieldwalking was halted in March 2020 due to the coronavirus lockdown, however members of the group were keen to maintain their friendships, communications and archaeology activities and so social media was utilised including the creation of a YouTube channel. The channel hosted lectures which encouraged lively comments and correspondence. It has built communication skills and helped members to grow in confidence, especially when presenting their own specialisations.
Marsh Award for Best Project with Paid Support
Winner – CAER Heritage: The Hidden Hillfort Project
CAER Heritage was established in 2011 and is a collaboration between Action in Caerau and Ely, Cardiff University, local schools, residents, community groups and many others. The project focuses on the research of Caerau Hillfort which is a nationally important site that is surrounded by the west Cardiff suburbs. Activities included geophysical surveys, excavations, artefacts analyses, exhibitions, art installations, films, performances, accredited courses, and experimental archaeology. The Hidden Hillford Project is creating a heritage centre at the site along with heritage trails, interpretation, and volunteer opportunities. During the Covid-19 period, face-to-face activities were presented with challenges, however the CAER team co-designed three new project activities that allowed people to continue to engage with their local heritage. These were CAER Big Dig in their own gardens, CAER Cupboard Archaeology to excavate objects buried in their cupboards, and CAER Heritage Food Packages to create fun food parcels delivered to local families in need. These CAER projects contributed to wellbeing and learning, and physical activity. The projects sustained and grew volunteer engagement in archaeology to places previously not involved.
Highly Commended – Inverkeithing Burgh Survey
The Inverkeithing Burgh Survey project is an established best practice archaeological model of Scottish burgh surveys and is designed to characterise the history and identity of historic towns, quantify their archaeological potential, involve communities, and produce a book to reference and use as a management tool. The Burgh Survey has flourished since March 2020 and volunteers are supported to meet weekly on Zoom where they develop research skills, access digital resources, and learn how to reference their writing. The Zoom calls have been ‘lifelines’ to people living alone and volunteers have found working together enjoyable and uplifting and an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded people. Volunteers did additional research and revealed new evidence on the most important civic building in the area at the time. The consultant team supported volunteers between meetings by phone and email and has been of enormous archaeological and heritage value. Social media and podcasts have been created to celebrate discoveries, developments, and progress.