Great Excavations

Great Excavations : Shaping the Archaeological Profession

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Great excavations inspire and capture the imagination of both the public and archaeologists alike; sites like Danebury, Sutton Hoo, Maiden Castle, Mucking and York conjure images of great discoveries and leaps in knowledge. But what was it like to participate in these excavations? What is the story of these projects, and what made them great? This is a fascinating and entertaining retrospective documenting some of the seminal British excavations, assessing why they were so significant and why they persist in the memory and folklore of archaeologists today. It is also a social history of the profession and one that should stir memories and dispel (or corroborate) some urban myths that younger archaeologists may be aware of. An impressive list of authors and projects make this a significant contribution to the history and development of British archaeology over the course of the twentieth century. Fourteen chapters describe specific projects: Sutton Hoo, Birdoswald, Maiden Castle, Winchester, Owslebury, Danebury, The Breiddin, Wroxeter, Haddenham, Howe, York, Mucking, West Heslerton and Wharram Percy; six further chapters provide a thematic overview, covering early excavations, the IFA, English Heritage and the commercial sector. The world of archaeology has changed dramatically over the past twenty-five years, not least in becoming a profession. One of the clear messages of this book is the requirement for archaeology that great excavations continue in the future, to inspire another generation of archaeologists. The scope of archaeology may have changed, and the methodologies with it. The politics of excavation have changed too, with a more commercially driven and professional endeavour. But it is still, typically, the direct physical engagement with earth, artefacts, place and people (of the past and the present) that draws us in. This is why excavations matter, and why they can be more

Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 182 x 250 x 26mm | 839.14g
  • Oxbow Books
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 146 b/w and col illus
  • 1842174096
  • 9781842174098
  • 1,042,895

Review quote

The most systematic and wide-ranging attempt so far to write a social history of archaeology as we have known it over the last fifty years... Eighteen authors (all of them Fellows) address the question what makes a great excavation, and their answers collectively chart the experiments, the grand dreams and schemes, the methodological advances, the weather, the dig rituals, the food and the drink, the parties, the passions and the personalities of the now semi-mythical excavations that served as a rite of passage for so many young people, especially during the late 1960s to the early 1980s, such as Hambledon Hill, the Somerset Levels, Oswlebury, Winchester, Sutton Hoo, Maiden Castle, Danebury, Wroxeter, Coppergate, Mucking and Wharram Percy, South Cadbury, Birdoswold, Howe, Haddenham, Grove Priory and many more.' -- SALON - The Society of Antiquaries Online Newslett SALON - The Society of Antiquaries Online Newslett ... a delightful ragbag of anecdote, social commentary and archaeology. It is also a wide-ranging source of information and leads, to inspire further research into the era that defined the way we practise field archaeology today, even as its records fade and its protagonists age.' -- British Archaeology British Archaeologyshow more

About John Schofield

John Schofield is Cathedral Archaeologist for St Paul's Cathedral. He worked at the Museum of London from 1974 until 2008, and is now a freelance archaeologist and architectural historian. He has written widely on the archaeology and building history of London and European towns, with several well-received books: The building of London from the Conquest to the Great Fire (3rd ed, 1999); Medieval London houses (2nd ed, 2003), [with Alan Vince] Medieval towns (2005), St Paul's Cathedral before Wren (2011) and London 1100-1600: the archaeology of a capital city (2011). His next book will be on the historic waterfront of the City of more

Table of contents

1. Greatness in depth: Why excavations matter (John Schofield) 2. Some notable British excavations before 1900 (C. Stephen Briggs) 3. Sutton Hoo: An archaeography (Martin Carver) 4. Great excavations enhanced - Birdoswald, Richborough, Whitby and the Chester amphitheatre (Tony Wilmott) 5. Aspiring to greatness: The recent excavations at Maiden Castle (Niall Sharples) 6. The urban revolution: Martin Biddle's excavations in Winchester, 1961-71 (John Collis) 7. The rural revolution: Excavation of the Iron Age and Roman farming settlement at Owslebury, Hampshire, 1961-72 (John Collis) 8. The Danebury decades (Barry Cunliffe) 9. South Cadbury, The Breiddin, The Rescue Archaeology Group ... and then respectability (Chris Musson) 10. The legacy of Howe, thirty years after (Beverley Ballin Smith) 11. Writing into Land: Haddenham and the Lower Ouse environs (Chris Evans) 12. Philip Barker's Wroxeter (Paul Everill and Roger White) 13. `Erik Bloodaxe Rules OK': The Viking Dig at Coppergate, York (Richard Hall) 14. The Manpower Services Commission and La Grava (Evelyn Baker) 15. Mucking: Real heritage heroism or heroic failure? (Paul Barford) 16. Growing up with Wharram Percy (Bob Croft) 17. West Heslerton: Past, present and future (Dominic Powlesland) 18. Great Expectations, great excavations: The view from the trenches (Paul Everill) 19. Great excavations, developer funding and the future (David Jennings) 20. What the Dickens happened to the IFA? (Peter Hinton) 21. Great Excavations? (Geoff Wainwright)show more