chapter  1
26 Pages

INTRODUCTION

At the beginning of the twenty-first century there were probably some 4,500 archaeologists working in the UK (Aitchison 1999: 6) compared with mere hundreds 30 years ago. Many of these posts are based in local government, especially within planning departments, but many others have sprung up as private consultancies or within engineering or environmental companies to support the wider position of heritage in development work. There is a co-ordinating professional organisation – the Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA) – to which many belong, and there are a variety of published works which attest to the archaeologists’ role in the wider context of the construction industry, in landscape management, and in the general development arena (e.g. DoE 1990; Hunter and Ralston 1993; Hey and Lacey 2001; Darvill and Russell 2002). Archaeological sites are assessed and evaluated in advance of threats; some become excavated as an integral part of the development process. Archaeology has become sanitised, part of a larger corporate activity and, although it intrinsically maintains a research dimension as raison d’être, its practitioners cut fairly mundane figures in comparison to earlier perceptions.