Archaeology out there - Council for British Archaeology

Archaeology Matters

Current issues

The CBA works to shape government policy around current issues threatening the future of our historic environment. We monitor and campaign in a number of areas, as well as responding to consultations on key heritage issues. We also respond to planning applications concerning listed buildings across England and Wales.

This page includes information on some of the current issues facing our historic environment today as well as some of the most recent campaigns that the CBA has been involved in.

Cuts to Archaeology Services

The current economic climate and austerity measures have left many local authority historic environment services struggling with significant cuts to their budgets. This had led to the loss of dedicated staff and in some cases loss of services all together. The Council for British Archaeology along with a number of other organisations have been championing the role of these front-line services in the protection and promotion of the nation’s heritage.

In response to the cuts to local authority advisory services the CBA has set up a Local Heritage Engagement Network with funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

The CBA has also been involved in initiating a Government review into the future of local authority services as part of the Archaeology Forum (TAF) along with colleagues from other heritage organisations (for more information see below).

Derelict housing in Liverpool

Government Review into Archaeology Services

The Government are currently undertaking a national review on the future of archaeology services and are asking for comments and evidence from across the sector. The CBA are encouraging as many people as possible to contribute to the consultation, and to engage in the debates surrounding these essential services. For more information about the review and how you can add your comments please visit our news pages.

The deadline for contributions is February 14th 2014.

Butterley Spillway

One of the CBA's recent casework successes has been at Butterley in West Yorkshire. Working alongside local group 'Save Butterley Spillway' the CBA successfully campaigned against the partial demolition of a grade 2 listed late nineteenth century reservoir spillway, the only listed spillway in Britain. For more information read the case report.

Butterly Spillway

Welsh Chapels in Crisis

The chapel is perhaps the most characteristic of all of Wales’ building types; they have been described by some as an essential part of the Welsh urban landscape, making every Welsh settlement instantly recognisable. But the Welsh chapel is in crisis. Capel, the Chapel's Heritage Society in Wales says that due to dwindling congregations the rate of closure is an alarming one every week. Many chapels lie empty and rotting, others have the misfortune of being insensitively converted. The CBA are joining with other organisations and individuals to raise awareness of the plight of the Welsh chapel and want to encourage understanding, care and sensitive re-use. Read more.

Interior of Morriston Tabernacl, Swansea

Portable Antiquities

Treasure hunting is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, which is a major concern for archaeologists. Throughout its history the CBA has played an active and influential role in campaigning for reforms of legislation, policy and practice in relation to portable antiquities – most especially in seeking to combat the illicit looting of archaeological sites and the trade in illegally removed cultural objects. The CBA continues to play an active role in this area.

In undertaking this work the CBA is advised by The Portable Antiquities Working Group, a Presidential working party of the CBA with a membership of individuals with specialist knowledge drawn from a diverse range of archaeological and museums organisations. The CBA also acts as the convenor for the Standing Conference on Portable Antiquities, which brings together a broader constituency of archaeological organisations and museums, and governmental and academic bodies throughout the UK.

There is more information about this issue on our Treasure and Portable Antiquities page.


Pile of radiates © Portable Antiquities Scheme
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