Archaeology and Public Benefit Project Update 7: Maximising public benefit from construction-driven archaeology

Dr Sadie Watson
29.03.2021

UKRI Future Leaders Fellow Dr Sadie Watson was recently invited to accompany Peter Hinton, the CEO of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, to speak to the Chartered Institute of Building, about how archaeology might help our colleagues in construction to provide better outcomes for their neighbouring communities. In this blog, Sadie shares some insights from her talk…

As my archaeological career has been entirely framed within the development-led environment I have gained a vast amount of experience of the construction sector, from how archaeology can be impacted by engineering solutions to the myriad logistical challenges that can add to the complexities of a project. It has been part of the daily routine for me to engage in discussions over installation of shoring in deep trenches, using the crane for spoil removal and the careful negotiations over machine access to trenches. All these aspects of my job were unexpected when I started working on sites but have become entirely normal and show how integrated we are in the design and management of construction projects. There are many ways in which the construction sector has encouraged us to alter and improve our practice, the progress in Health and Safety considerations being a prime example.

These are all practical ways in which we have engaged successfully in construction frameworks and structures, but we can expand this now as we have new opportunities to embed the value that archaeology can provide, using concepts and guidance currently under development. As part of my UKRI research project I have engaged with the Construction Innovation Hub, who are developing  new ways to consider wider social, economic and environmental factors  associated with development projects, providing a Value-led framework that will steer the design of a project and ensure the value objectives are embedded through the full project lifecycle. Two of these Values are Human and Social, both of which relate closely to initiatives archaeology could offer as part of our contribution to a project. These Value frameworks are being designed with the aim of introducing them to design later in 2021 and I have submitted some additional archaeologically focussed outcomes for these, for example:

  • Providing increased understanding/awareness of local narratives
  • Contributing to the learning and development of local school pupils
  • Providing opportunities to develop skills training programmes for non-traditional and hard to reach audiences
  • Providing increased personal and communal wellbeing through participation
  • Providing opportunity for the community to co-create archaeological project research aims
  • Incorporating investment in deprived communities via local historical values
  • Acknowledging diverse histories and provides access to them
  • Delivering community cohesion through collaborative working and participation

The conversations we are having with the Construction Innovation Hub team are at an early stage but our ideas have been well received and I have been asked to speak along the CEO of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists at a Chartered Institute for Building event, aimed at introducing some of these potential solutions to Human and Social value that we can provide.

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