As part of the final run-in for The Way, The Truth and The Dead, I’ve done two guest blog posts about crowdfunding (and, yes, “crowdfunding” is now generally preferred to the more correct, if clumsier “crowd-funding”). Both have been aimed at an archaeological audience, as both the host blogs are quite specific about their targeted readers. Both my pieces approached the topic from a personal, historical perspective. The first stressed the potential of crowdfunding, whereas this, the second, is more general. It’s about seeing the past as an essential component of the present – and, by implication, the future. If we archaeologists have a problem, it’s that we’re too reluctant to throw aside our discipline’s self-imposed blinkers: sometimes over-focus can destroy the imagination. And that worries me increasingly. But see what you think. As before, click on the link.
Reaching New Readers
Sometime in the winter of 1990, I think it was after Christmas, I went to London for a meeting with the Commissioning Editor of the Publisher B.T. Batsford who had formed a partnership with English Heritage to launch a joint series of archaeology books. To my surprise they wanted me to write one about Flag Fen, our waterlogged Bronze Age site, on the Fen-edge of eastern Peterborough, which we had discovered nine years previously. Since then we had opened our excavations to the public and were currently welcoming over 20,000 paying visitors a year. And we tried to do the job properly. Glancing through an old leaflet from this time, I note that we were sponsored by some large corporations and were registered with the English Tourist Board as ‘A Quality Assured Visitor Attraction’, no less. But it was very hard work. Most members of the team worked six-day weeks and for about a decade we very rarely had a weekend off. That fact alone gave one’s life an interesting rhythm, which I still look back on with some nostalgia.
I find it hard to believe now, but I was very surprised by the new commission…