The National Heritage Act will clearly only be a shadow of the State Antiquity service that it might have been.
No. 88 Vol. VIII No. 5 Published August 1983
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ANEW tradition seems to be springin g u p whereb y archaeological legislation is only ever passed in the final minutes of a dying parliament. In 1979 the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act went through on the nod in the final minutes of the Labour government, and now in 1983, the National Heritage Act was passed in the final minutes of Mrs Thatcher's first parliament.
For many archaeologists the new Ac t i s somewha t of a disappointment, as it has been castrated by the omission of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments. It is difficult to know quite why the omission was made: in open debate most archaeologists reached the conclusion that the main, if not indeed the only advantage of the Bill was that it merged the RCHM; however it appears that there was extensive behind-thescenes lobbying. It is a pity that if there are any good reasons for keeping the RCHM separate, they were never made public.
Now that the Act is passed, we must now wait for the appointment of the members of the Commission, who in their turn will appoint the Chief Officer. However since Mr Heseltine's departure, Mr Tom King has come and gone, and Mr Patrick Jenkin is now with us, so it may be some time before he gets round to making any appointments: but if they do no t appoin t the Commissioners before the autumn, they will have a rush to get the new commission off the ground by April 1st 1984. However with the RCHM hived off and the two major monuments (the Tower of London and Hampton Court) excluded, it
IT looks as if work will soo n b e startin g onc e again a t Sutton Hoo. The excavations in 1939 which revealed the great Anglo-Saxon ship burial were supplemented by extensive excavations between 1965-70. However, there are at least 16 barrows in the cemetery, of which 9 may be intact, and two of these appear from their shape to be boat barrows. Thus over the past few years the Society of Antiquaries and the British Museum have put forward a scheme for renewed research, and recently they appointed Martin Carver as Director of the project. At a meeting of the Medieval Society in London on April 15th, he presented his initial plans in the first of a series of Sutton Hoo Research Seminars.
Ever since the project was first mooted, it has been controversial, with opposition coming notably from the local professional archaeologists, the Scole Committee. However much of the opposition has been assuaged by the appointment of Martin Carver as the Director of the project, for he is essentially a smallscale, cautious operator who does not believe in massive excavations for their own sake.
Martin Carver is not a graduate in archaeology, but began his career in the army, and while in the army he took an external London degree in general sciences. Having left the army he did a diploma in Anglo-