Martin Roe is the principal archaeologist at Meerstone Archaeological Consultancy
He is also the creator of a new open content project – Meerstone Community Archaeology Manual
The ethic behind this project is that community archaeology is archaeological research carried out by, and for, local communities, either with or without the support of professionals. We strongly believe that archaeology can involve everyone irrespective of experience, skills, knowledge, education or social background. We also believe that well designed community projects can reach far beyond local interest and can address important academic questions. The aim is to empower and equip community groups with the skills and facilities to make significant contributions to the archaeological record.
The manual tries to answer the very basic questions frequently asked by people with no previous experience, but at the same time provides sufficient knowledge to allow them to access more technical literature should they require it. This manual is therefore seen as a stepping stone on the road to self enlightenment, encouraging and enabling intellectual access to the same resources as professional archaeologists.
To ensure access for all the manual introduces a range of options from simple to complex, all graded with a scale of trowels, similar to the spanner scale used in the Haynes car repair manuals. One trowel is easy and requires no previous experience; five is best attempted with professional support. The manual is underpinned by the use of free open source software to allow community groups to produce professional results.
This is a not for profit enterprise and we are encouraging users to make contributions so that it becomes a community as well as a community resource. Think of it as like Wikipedia with an editor, crossed with the Haynes car repair manuals. It is intended to be a dynamic and constantly evolving tool for community archaeology.
This manual currently runs to 205 pages and is supplied on a CD-ROM. When you buy a copy of the manual you are actually buying a license. This license works in a similar way to software licenses. You buy a copy and will receive free upgrades for 12 months. You can then renew your subscription on a year by year basis, to ensure that you always have access to the most up to date version.
The manual is available to purchase from http://community.meerstone.co.uk/ There you can find a sample of the manual plus an overview of the project and more on the ethic behind it. You can also join the projects dedicated discussion group.