Community digs can inspire the next generation of archaeologists
The saying goes the past should be left in the past, but not of course when it comes to archaeology. In fact, if recent figures are anything to go by, it seems many of us can’t get enough of the past influencing our present – more than 70 per cent of adults visited a historic site in England within the last year.
Membership of the two largest voluntary heritage organisations in the UK has also increased significantly in the last 10 years – this is despite the recession. National Trust membership is up by 8 per cent with 4.3 million members, and English Heritage is up by 10 per cent, with 932,000 heritage enthusiasts now on its books.
Hands-on experience has been key to this growth, and the Heritage Lottery Fund has been a big driver in encouraging members of the public to participate in the survey, excavation and research of their own past. Between its founding in 1994 and 2010 the fund awarded £144m to more than 850 projects that focused on archaeology. And of these 550 were community archaeology projects.