Now in its fifth year, Current Archaeology Live! is still going from strength to strength. Held for the first time at the University of London’s Senate House, over 350 people came to share the latest news from digs taking place all over the UK and abroad, and to hear the results of the 2012 Current Archaeology awards. It was a great couple of days and we have already had some enthusiastic feedback, both from long-term attendees and first-time visitors. We’re excited about next year already…

This year’s conference broke with tradition in a number of ways. As well as moving to a new venue we also streamlined all our sessions into a single strand, removing the agony of choosing between which talks to attend. Vikings or Romans? Iron Age or international archaeology? This year, everyone could listen to everything — which can only be a good thing, as we were spoiled for choice with our speakers for 2012. We heard the latest news from landmark sites including Stonehenge, Neolithic Orkney and London’s Temple of Mithras (watch this space for more on this singularly mobile site in CA 266), and caught up with old friends, with updates from Silchester (CA 250) and Richborough (CA 257).

Experimental archaeology

Current Archaeology Live!2012 also marked our first foray into serious social networking. Braving 21st-century technology, we live-tweeted the event using the hashtag #calive2012 and had a great response from people who couldn’t be with us but were glad to follow proceedings on Twitter. Questions, comments and jokes flooded the feed, and we have printed a selection of our favourites on this month’s Letters page. We were joined in this endeavour by Heritage Action’s Alan Simkins who not only tweeted his favourite points throughout both days, but also reviewed the conference online (see www.storify.com/imperfectal/current-archaeology-live-2012).

 Protecting the past

While 2011 has been an undeniably productive year for archaeology, however, it has not been without its challenges. Our keynote speaker, Coast‘s Professor Mark Horton, analysed the current situation with sobering statistics on university admissions, museum funding and commercial units closing (a worrying picture compounded by Tony Wilmott’s revelation that English Heritage’s finances have been slashed by 32%) while Tim Sutherland of the University of York highlighted the importance — and difficulties — of protecting historic battlefields.

Nevertheless, far from a passively despairing attitude, there seemed a real determination amongst attendees to find lasting solution to the issues raised. Intense discussion, full of searching questions and thought-provoking suggestions, proved a real test of agility for our student volunteers tasked with scampering around the auditorium armed with microphones. It was heartening to see such a large turnout of people who are passionate about the future of archaeology, and of course the sessions themselves demonstrated the great work being done in rescue and research archaeology across the UK, in Ireland and — in those organised by Current World Archaeology and Military History Monthly — further afield. Despite the difficult financial situation important advances are still being made.  

Current Archaeology Awards 2012

Compered by Meet the Ancestors’ Julian Richards, the CA Awards are always a high point of the conference, recognising the dedication and imagination of archaeologists across the UK— and, of course,  followed by a terrific party, featuring a rocking performance by Tim Darvill’s all-archaeologist band, the Standing Stones, back by popular demand.  Congratulations to this year’s winners as voted for by you, our readers. Over 5500 votes were cast and the results were as followed:

Archaeologist of the Year: Tony Wilmott (English Heritage),  

Research Project of the Year:  Sea of Troubles: Scotland’s Eroding Heritage, accepted by Tom Dawson (SCAPE),

Rescue Dig of the Year: Massacre at Fin Cop, accepted by Clive Waddington (Archaeological Research Services),

Book of the Year: Becoming an Archaeologist: a guide to professional pathways,  Joe Flatman

Andante Archaeological Prize (presented by Andante Travels): Ness of Brodgar, accepted by Nick Card (Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology)

We hope to see you next year!

 

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