Welcome to the Urban Archaeology blog. Freelance archaeologist Chiz Harward provides a range of on and offsite services to the archaeological profession, including running and working on excavations, post-excavation services, training and development work, and illustration work. This weblog will carry news of projects as and when they happen as well as wider thoughts on archaeological issues, especially recording, stratigraphy and training.

21st Century Archaeologists

Chiz Harward presented a paper on training and reskilling at the recent 21st Century Archaeologists day-conference at the University of Winchester on the 19th June. His paper continues the themes set out in Chiz's recent article in The Archaeologist, and sets out the need to put training at the heart of everything we do on site. Chiz argues that there is a need for clear and logical methodologies on site in order to provide an adaptive framework within which we can excavate and record. These methodologies also need to be integrated with Post-excavation procedures and the boundaries between site and post-ex, and supervisor and archaeologist roles need to be blurred.

Training must be given space in which to be provided, but we also must give staff the time to do their job properly. It is no good training staff in stratigraphic excavation techniques if they are ordered to 'just hack it out' when they return to site.

There is a clear need for a national system for recording training, CPD and skills aquisition, and Chiz argues that this could be a 'skills passport' type system, linked to the Archaeology National Occupational Standards, and held by the individual archaeologist. This could dovetail with employers' appraisal systems and schemes and would benefit employer and employee, and could replace the use of  the enigmatic phrase 'experience' as a way of grading staff.

Training can be given on site, in ad hoc sessions, but the adoption of a 'Training Hour' should be considered by employers, this would be dedicated time to train staff and to discuss what we are all doing, on site and off. Greater communication and interplay between site staff and office based specialists should be encouraged.

Training 'Toolbox Talks' can be given on relevant subjects on site, and Urban Archaeology has prepared supporting factsheets for many subjects which are excellent tools for one-to-one mentoring sessions, informal seminars and as aide memoires. Urban Archaeology can provide bespoke training sessions for both site and office staff, and can also undertake reviews of training provision at archaeological employers, and suggest ways of integrating training and staff development into the working week. Urban Archaeology can also carry out reviews of recording systems, methodologies and post-excavation systems and offer advice on potential improvements.

The paper will be published in due course by the University of Winchester Centre for Applied Archaeology. Chiz will be presenting versions of the paper at the FAME Forum in York on the 13th July, and at the Diggers' Forum/Prospect conference the next day (also in York).