Leicestershire and Rutland Archaeological Network
A partnership between Leicestershire County Council, Rutland County Council and Parishes
Leicestershire County Council has a policy of improving partnership working with Parish and Town Councils and Parish Meetings, delegating services to these most locally based of representative bodies.
Leicestershire County Council’s Heritage Services (LCCHS) has been developing Community Archaeology since the mid-1970’s, establishing and co-ordinating Fieldwork Groups right across Leicestershire and Rutland, built from the ranks of enthusiasts.
These two strands are now being woven together to produce the Leicestershire and Rutland Archaeological Network (LRAN), in partnership with Rutland County Council.
To establish Archaeological Wardens in every parish in the two Counties, who will develop our understanding of the past in their parishes, promote sympathetic interest in archaeology, and improve communication between the general public, LCCHS and Rutland County Museum.
Establishing the Network
Every parish’s representative body will have received a letter outlining the scheme, and inviting them to appoint an Archaeological Warden in consultation with LCCHS. The Fieldwork Group members and other archaeologists in the Counties have been advised of the scheme, and encouraged to approach their Parish Councils etc and offer their services. The Network is co-ordinated by LCCHS’s Archaeological Services Team, who can put parish representatives and local archaeologists in touch with each other, and with Heritage Wardens and Heritage Watch Groups. Parishes and Archaeological Wardens incur no costs by joining the Network.
The Role of Leicestershire County Council Heritage Service
Wardens are provided with a summary of the Archaeological Sites and Monuments Record of their Parish; this lists and maps all known archaeological sites and finds, together with a selected range of building and industrial features. They also receive an Information Pack covering aspects of archaeological practice. LCCHS’s archaeologists can offer training, advice and the identification of objects. Wardens are informed of the progress of the LRAN through a regular Newsletter, and will be given information about neighbouring Wardens to aid co-ordination of local initiatives. An Annual Report is distributed to all Parish Councils etc and Wardens.
The Work of Archaeological Wardens
One of the joys of archaeology is that it is such a diverse subject, the pursuit of which embraces a wide range of skills. Local knowledge and enthusiasm are invaluable assets for a Warden to have. Archaeology exists in every parish, sometimes patently obvious, sometimes hidden, and everyone can contribute to recovering and recording it.
The commitment of a Warden is open-ended, dependent upon the time and skills individuals can offer. Some may choose to actively seek out archaeological sites and finds, while others may prefer simply to be a recorder, reporting on information brought to them.
The former is more likely to bring rewards in discovery, leading to preservation or recording, of sites and features, but the importance of collecting records of finds and information received from others should not be understated.
The following are some suggestions of initiatives Wardens could take.
- •Record local collections of objects, memories of past land use, and parish lore.
- •Encourage people to look in their gardens for finds; garden ornaments can prove to be objects of some antiquity, unrecognised as such, and many finds have been made whilst digging the garden or allotment.
- •Establish a field survey, with the co-operation of the farmers. Walking fields in a regular grid is an excellent way of finding objects on the surface, particularly pottery, tile and flint, and locating sites. Newly-ploughed fields are especially important, as many objects deteriorate over the course of a few years' exposure to the elements and to arable cultivation.
- •Metal detecting on ploughed fields is a valuable complementary technique to field walking. LCCHS advises against detecting on permanent pasture where no imminent threat of destruction is present, as archaeological features may lie close to the surface and could be damaged by digging to recover detected objects.
- •Examine “holes” in the ground such as drainage ditches, service trenches, and building foundation trenches, with due permission. Many fieldworkers have undertaken such “watching briefs” on behalf of LCCHS and the Archaeological Adviser to the local Diocese of the Church of England.
- •Record local buildings and traditional building techniques, and "ridge and furrow" earthworks.
- •Use of the SMR, and advancing local knowledge, will help Parish Councils in their role of local consultants. These Councils are empowered to draw the attention of planning authorities to the need for consultation with their specialist archaeologist advisers in Leicestershire County Council on particular sites when commenting upon planning applications.
How to Join
If you would like to become a Volunteer Archaeological Warden, or represent a Parish or Town Council or Meeting interested in making an appointment, or would simply like more information of the Network or any aspect of the Counties' archaeology, please contact Helen Sharp, Leicestershire County Council Communities and Wellbeing Service, Room 500, County Hall, Glenfield, Leicester LE3 8RL, telephone number: (0116) 305 8324; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page Last Updated: 13 May 2013