|Treasure hunt TV masquerading as TV archaeology (edited from PAS image)|
The first series of "Britain's Secret Treasures" had, I believe, a negative impact on British archaeology, and archaeology anywhere else the series is sold and viewed. I think Heritage Action's Nigel Swift put this very well indeed this morning. What is notable that it was a grassroots conservation organization ("men in the street") raising this issue, while the reaction from british archaeologfy has been feeble to the point of non-existent. There has as yet, for example, not been a mention even of this on the CBA's Britarch forum...
Surely, if British archaeology is to be (as it currently is) reliant on the support and the expectations of the public for its funding, then we have to be very careful to ensure that this public sees archaeology as something else than a rapid once-over with a metal detector to get the gold, silver and exciting finds out. Loose finds that it is enough to make up a uick yarn about to put them in "context" and make them "interestiong/significant".
I am of the opinion that the PAS and its media outreach has thoughtlessly, selfishly, casually and irresponsibly done much to totally destroy decades of hard work since the "rescue years" to get a message over to the public about the nature of archaeology. It did not have to be like that. I see their involvement in the "Britain's Secret Treasures" series as the next step in this process. It is disappointing not to see anybody else even tentatively raise the question of whether a "BSTII" is indeed a good thing for the discipline. Obviously the jobsworths think a reliance on dumbed-down stories of treasure, human interest and fascinating extra-source-knowledge narritivisation of lose artefacts is the only way to cature public interest in archaeology.
Probably the chances therefore are extremely remote that, as was the case with the first series, that anybody is going to be pressing for there to be any consultation about the content and format throughout the discipline (not just behind closed doors with the PAS) before the programme proposal is put together.