Public Heritage: Negotiating Best Practice

Part of the ‘Applying Archaeological Theory‘ Strand Sponsored by Big Heritage

Public Heritage: Negotiating Best Practice

Seren Griffiths (UCLan,

Ffion Reynolds (Cadw,

Cat Rees (CR Archaeology,

The historic environment of Britain includes rich and diverse sites and landscapes, with materials and archives curated by a range of organisations. As archaeologists working in across sectors in Wales, we are interested in how public heritage best practices are developed across different regions and countries in these islands. There are many stakeholders in public heritage – some of specific relevant to different national or regional concerns – and including those working in museums, on archaeological excavations, in survey work, for national organisations, in local societies, and in many other settings. Public heritage work in Wales offers a specific series of concerns, including economic conditions, the post-industrial history of the country, the importance of Welsh language and Welsh medium delivery, the structure of cultural heritage management in Wales, the issues of engaging diverse communities, as well as the country’s geography and infrastructure. This session will provide a forum to discuss and share best practice in these different sectors of the historic environment, addressing specific concerns with public heritage in Wales and how best practice could be developed with reference to other case studies. We welcome papers relating directly to public heritage practice in Wales, as well as comparison case studies from further afield; we especially invite papers that detail examples of work accomplished through multi-agency collaboration, those that integrate a creative emphasis in public heritage, and those that would be willing to develop strategies for best practice in the future

Keywords: public heritage; collaborative best practices


Tintagel and the Kingdom of Heaven: Mythology & The Republic of the Soul

Caradoc Peters (Truro College, Plymouth University,

Tintagel is at the centre of a continuing controversy between English Heritage, Cornwall Council and a range of stakeholders. This controversy is often seen in ideological (colonialist versus nationalist) terms, and as such, misses the underlying causes of conflict. This paper attempts to navigate the issues and review them using Plato’s Theory of Soul from the Republic and Phaedrus. The Theory of Soul has three parts: a logical one, a spirited one and an appetitive one. Attempts at resolution in the case of Tintagel often focus on historic detail and legal arguments, which in turn aim at a series of binary one-off outcomes.

The controversies include the interpretation of the site, in particular the presence or absence of Cornish people in its past, the use of and access to the site, the management (especially of art works and infrastructure), ownership of the site, and the promotion and marketing aspects (especially when ‘overly commercial’).


Public Archaeology at Bryn Celli Ddu: Sharing Prehistory

Sian Bramble, Sanaa Hijazi, Courtney Mainprize, Maranda Wareham, and Seren Griffiths (University of Central Lancashire,

This paper presents the results of an undergraduate project exploring attitudes to heritage and public archaeology at Bryn Celli Ddu, and more widely results from an online survey. The survey was undertaken during the 2018 public archaeology landscape project around Bryn Celli Ddu Neolithic passage tomb. The results examine current attitudes to prehistoric archaeology among members of the public who visit Bryn Celli Ddu, who visits prehistoric heritage sites in Wales, using Bryn Celli Ddu as a case study, and ways in which members of the public would prefer information to be disseminated information about this historic environment to interested members of the public in Wales.


Public or Community: Who drives Archaeological Projects?

Jenny Hall (Trysor Heritage Consultancy,

“Community Archaeology” is now included in all sorts of projects in recent years but what is community archaeology? Is it really archaeology fulfilling the aims and desires of a community of interest, or public archaeology fulfilling the desires of an external organisation/government. This paper will briefly look at the differences between community archaeology and public archaeology, the benefits and the pitfalls.

This paper draws on the experience of the presenter having established Trysor Heritage Consultancy in 2004 ( with a friend, Paul Sambrook. The vision for Trysor was to engage with communities on their terms to deliver what they wanted. Over the past 14 years Tysor has undertaken over 600 projects including many community-driven projects.


From Bryn Celli Ddu to Babeldaob: Bringing together Lessons Learned from Community Comics Projects in Wales and Micronesia

John Swogger (Freelance Archaeological Illustrator,

Wales and the Pacific islands of Micronesia are – almost literally – half a world apart. Yet both countries face similar issues regarding the economic, political and cultural context of telling stories about the past. This paper will look at community-based outreach projects about archaeology, history and heritage in both countries which are using comics as a medium, and discuss similarities in how such projects are addressing issues surrounding language, cultural resource management, post-industrial/post-colonial heritage concerns, diverse indigenous and incomer identities, geography and infrastructure.

The examples will illustrate ways in which such projects can constructively align professional and/or government agencies with community-based organisations, can prioritise and enable local concerns and curiosities, and can bring together specialist and non-specialist input to create more sustainable narratives of the past. Lessons learned from such projects can better leverage creative engagement with heritage as part of broader public/community interactions with the past, and have specific implications for the


Collaborating on the Coast: Making Heritage for the Future at Orford Ness

Lara Band (CITiZAN; MOLA, and Nadia Bartolini (University of Exeter,

Formal collaboration between CITiZAN (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network), Heritage Futures and the National Trust on Orford Ness has brought benefits to all involved. Through observing, working with and interviewing CITiZAN participants Heritage Futures has gained a deeper understanding of the motivations of archaeologists, both professionals and volunteers. The wider scope of Heritage Futures provides CITiZAN with an opportunity to address broader questions surrounding the value that places hold for people, the ways in which humans and non-humans interact in the present and how and why we save things for the future. Working with the National Trust in an ecologically sensitive area has highlighted the dynamics of managing landscapes that are significant for both natural and human made environments. Volunteers have enhanced the project through contributing a wide range of skills and expertise. This paper will explore the benefits and challenges of transdisciplinary work and how this has informed ideas for the planned Phase 2 of CITiZAN.


Participatory research in archaeology and local communities in northern Italy: archaeology for change?

Alexandra Chavarría Arnau (Università degli Studi di Padova,

The paper will compare and discuss some recent experiences in participatory research with local communities in different areas of northern Italy. This paper will discuss how and why the impact of these activities varies from one community to another, including stakeholder involvement, and the “historicity” of these communities. The paper will also discuss the benefits of this kind of participatory projects not only for the communities in social and economic terms, but also the educational value for students as a form of multidisciplinary and immersive way of learning. Participatory research in archaeology has the possibility to change archaeological practice, to change the ways in which archaeology is taught, and also to change the perception that people have of archaeological work and its relevance for the future.


Sharing the Love for Unloved Heritage: Perspectives from Young People across Clwyd-Powys

Penny Foreman (Clywd-Powys Archaeological Trust,

Unloved Heritage is a Wales-wide Heritage Lottery Funded youth-led project aimed at highlighting areas of Welsh heritage that are overlooked, uncared for – unloved. It relinquishes the platform of heritage interpretation from traditional voices and sources, and instead turns it over to young people. Here in Clwyd-Powys, under the broad topic of “rural Wales after the combustion engine”, groups are invited to explore the themes, plan their projects, budget their finances, identify their training needs, explore their creativity, and deliver their vision. It’s about grounding heritage, history, archaeology, and art in relevant and engaging ideas and activities. It’s about developing passion and confidence and identity – above all, about showing young people they have valid, valuable inputs and insights that are necessary for the future of the past.

This paper is delivered as a collaboration between young people involved in the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust’s part of the Unloved Heritage project, and is presented by them.


Using Existing Government Employability Schemes to Enhance Enabled Participation in the Heritage Sector in Wales

Timothy Jones (Cardiff University,

This paper will identify how existing schemes designed to assist disadvantaged groups into employment can be used to address the lack of Enabled employment in heritage. Although this paper is focussed on the Enabled, a category into which I fall, I hope that at least some of the methods may have a wider applicability. The paper discusses the following issues.

1)         What is inclusivity? How do we measure it? How do we address issues of lack of diversity?

2)         A discussion of how specific existing schemes could be used to provide a framework to enhance the participation of the Enabled.

In (2) I will concentrate on 4 ‘schemes’ that I have been involved in as a participant: work trials, work placements, work choice and Specialist Employment Support. I will highlight problems that these schemes face and suggest ways in which they could make a big difference to Enabled participation.


The Public Archaeology of Fragments and Absences

Howard Williams (University of Chester,

This paper critically evaluates the public engagement strategies of Project Eliseg’s field investigations, 2010–2012.

Bangor and Chester universities explored for the first time with modern methods a unique monument for North Wales: “Eliseg’s Pillar”, Llantysilio, Denbigshire. In the care of Cadw and situated close to the well-visited ruins of the later medieval monastery, Valle Crucis Abbey, the Pillar of Eliseg is an in situ early medieval stone cross-shaft fragment and base, which our fieldwork demonstrated was situated upon a multi-phased Early Bronze Age kerbed cairn with secondary burial cists.

Project Eliseg attempted to engage the public through many activities and media, yet struggled to convey a story built upon multiple, distributed fragments and absences inherent in the cairn, cross and their combined biography. The paper argues that despite earnest strategies of public participation and engagement by the project, the monument has remained an enigma for local communities and tourists alike, in part due to its inherent fragmented and unique multi-period character, and the distributed nature of its heritage interpretation.


Sharing Best Practice in Public Archaeology: Case Studies from Wales

Seren Griffiths (University of Central Lancashire, paper presents the results of a consultation on the practice of public archaeology in Wales. It responds to the 2013 Cadw published the Cadw Community Archaeology Framework document, which presented: a range of aims, a definition and context for community archaeology, a background to community archaeology, a vision for community archaeology, and a commitment to working with partners and communities. Discussing a range of case studies this paper address strengths and challenges in the production of public archaeology projects in Wales.