current archaeology 128 BARNSBURY ROAD, LONDON, N.l. TEL. 01-278 2632 No. 19 MARCH 1970
VOL. II, No. 8
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Rescue Excavation and the Part-time Archaeologist
One of the most dramatic recent excavations is that which took place in the heart of the City of London on the site of the Roman Forum. Here a major excavation was carried out by Mr. Brian Philp and his Kent rescue excavation team, which is rapidly establishing itself as being the foremost rescue excavation team in the country. The original arrangements for a formal excavation fell through, but the archaeologists moved in over the weekend, and when the contractors arrived, were already in possession. And, by a mixture of bluff, cajolery and persuasion they gained the co-operation of the contractors and shared the site with them till , some 4 months later, the archaeology was completed. And so skilfully did they work that when they finished the contractors admitted that they were still on schedule, and had not lost a day due to archaeology.
This excavation could not have been undertaken by professional archaeologists in the usual way; if compensation had had to be paid, the cost on a prime site like this would have been prohibitive. Indeed it seems that this sort of high pressure work is only feasible by using a team of highly skilled amateurs who are not only prepared to work at all hours, even over Christmas, but who by their skill and dedication win both the admiration of the contractors and carry out the excavation in such a way that the building work is not interrupted. Certainly the Guildhall Museum which sponsored the excavation, and the Ministry of Public Building and Works, who financed it, have shown themselves to be well aware of the advantages of using the enthusiasm of such part-time archaeologists. Is it not possible therefore that in trying to turn 'professional', archaeology is taking a wrong turning, and should instead try to build up teams of amateurs like that of the Council for Kentish Archaeology?