- Meeting of Buckinghamshire Historic Environment Forum, Monday 2nd March 2015 2.30 pm (Item 9.)
Eliza Alqassar, Archaeological Planning Officer advised the following.
The Emergency Recording Fund was used in October 2014 to fund the excavation of a Roman casket burial, found by a metal detectorist during a rally on land near Whitchurch, Aylesbury. Oxford Archaeology was commissioned to excavate the burial which took place over a period of three days.
The find included a Roman wooden casket burial, Samian ware cups and dishes, a pottery flagon, an iron lamp holder, a red jasper intaglio ring and a bronze handle. The find has emphasised the importance of the site.
The excavation cost was £1572, micro excavation of the cremation was £1400 and the report was £1600, giving a total spent of c.£5000 to date.
In the interim there is still a small amount of work to be paid for to complete the excavation and to prepare the items for archiving. This includes the excavation of the base of the flagon, processing the environmental samples and getting the finds archive-ready at a total cost of £880 plus vat. Members of the Forum were asked if they wold agree to these further costs. A quote of £3600 has also been received for publication costs, but it is not anticipated that this would come out of the Emergency Recording Fund.
During discussions, the following comments were made and questions asked.
What is the definition of publication costs? As all archaeological fieldwork, removing a find from the ground is the start of a process which is not completed until the objects have been conserved, stored in a recognised repository and a full report on the find has been made publicly available.
Brett Thorn explained that the County Museum has agreed to pay for the conservations costs and the long term care of the artefacts but there is work to be done in the laboratory to get the items ready to be archived. Fund raising would have to take place for the monies to complete the works.
· The Emergency Fund is in place for finds such as this. The District Councils put a small amount of funding into the Emergency Fund each year. It is good to see it being spent on something worthwhile.
· Does the Emergency Fund include covering costs for publication?
· There is £3000 remaining in the Emergency Fund. This is a ludicrously small amount for an emergency. Metal detecting activity is highly unpredictable.
· Metal detecting is a commercial activity. Metal detecting organisations/groups hire fields from the landowner and charge individuals to take part in an event.
· The Government is trying to cut the post of Finds Liaison Officer
· Thought needs to be given about areas that are not developer funded and what can be done about future finds.
· The Bucks Historic Buildings Trust has funding which they have not spent. Is it possible to access these funds? The meagre figure in the emergency fund to deal with any potential major finds is a concern. There is also the issue of how the Emergency Recording Fund can be replenished.
· The key word is the emergency aspect. If items are dug up and are recorded and well archived, a report can be written and published at a later date.
· Is there any mileage in approaching the Weekend Wanderers for a donation to the Emergency Fund as the fund was used to excavate a find which was produced at another of their events? They fund the event via gate money.
· In Oxfordshire s106 officers are financed from applications received. Could 1% be used to top up the emergency fund?
· Would Aylesbury Vale Community Chest be an appropriate body to look at for funding for publication?
· The amount of funding has not increased in 10 years. An increase is long overdue. Could this be looked at?
The Senior Archaeological Planning Officer said without the Emergency Funds the finds would not have been excavated and the reports would not have been done. Buckinghamshire is very rare in terms of the Historic Environment Forum having emergency funding available. The usual method is for any finds to be dug up and for the Museum to be informed what has been found and the location.
What amount went into the Emergency Fund last year? The fund stood at £7600. The usual annual contribution is just £600. The contributions from Milton Keynes and Wycombe District Councils are still outstanding, although Milton Keynes will pay their contribution this month.
A short paper explaining the use of the emergency fund, the benefits of the fund and the proposed increase in contributions is to be sent to relevant Local Authorities and District Councils.
Action: Eliza Alqassar/ Chairman
The emergency fund is to be discussed with the Cabinet Member for Environment
Members of the Forum NOTED the use of the Emergency Recording Fund; the current status of the Fund and AGREED to review the protocol for the Emergency Recording Fund, including the title of the protocol, the criteria and the addition of publication costs.
Members of the Forum AGREED the excavation of the base of the flagon and preparation of the artefacts to a condition where they can be archived at a cost of £880 plus vat.