Queen's and Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership launch "Community Archaeology Toolkit" online resource

Created on: Thursday, 17 September 2020. Posted in: News

Queen's and Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership launch "Community Archaeology Toolkit" online resource

The Centre for Community Archaeology (CCA) at Queen’s University Belfast and Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership (LNLP) have launched a free online learning resource – the Community Archaeology Toolkit – for people interested in discovering more about how to research their local archaeological heritage.

Archaeological projects that involve community groups and local volunteers have been growing in popularity throughout the UK and Ireland over the past decade. In any normal summer the archaeologists at Queen’s would be assisting local communities across Northern Ireland to reveal their buried past through fieldwork projects. This year, however, has been very different because of the COVID-19 crisis, with social distancing measures removing opportunities for the public to be involved in fieldwork. With the support of the Queen’s Engaged Research Fund and The National Lottery Heritage Fund, however, the new toolkit now offers the potential for local communities to research and develop their own local projects.

Speaking of the project Dr Liam Campbell, Built and Cultural Heritage Officer with the LNLP said, “This is a great example of a partnership working in action and also a positive response to the COVID-19 situation when so many heritage events have not been able to take place. Lockdown, however, has meant that people have stayed close to their homes and consequently many have become more interested in the heritage on their own doorsteps. This new online resource will enable them to study that heritage. There is no better way to engage with our heritage than through community archaeology. It is using our heads, our hands and our hearts in getting to know our own local landscape a better”.

The archaeologists at Queen’s have an established reputation in supporting local communities to engage directly with their heritage and have delivered a wide range of exciting excavations with partner organisations in recent years, such as the discovery of a “lost” 17th-century fortification at Brockagh, Co. Tyrone, with the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership in 2018, and their investigations at the medieval ecclesiastical site at Cathedral Hill in Downpatrick, Co. Down, with Down Museum in 2018 and 2019. The Community Archaeology Toolkit is a distillation of the knowledge and experience that they have gained over the past decade.

Delivered over six weeks in bitesized weekly sessions, participants will learn about how to develop a community archaeology project in Northern Ireland. The course examines the background to running a project and is packed full of resources, techniques and information to help participants research their local heritage. They can use the toolkit to learn about using historic maps, reading the landscape, health & safety issues, and the fieldwork techniques used by archaeologists.

Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, endorses this approach. “The National Lottery Heritage Fund recognises just how useful archaeology is in connecting communities with their landscapes. The work of the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership exemplifies this. The creation of this new learning resource is to be commended and is a great output of their work with the archaeologists at Queen’s, a partnership which we fully endorse. We are grateful to National Lottery players for enabling us to support important projects like this.”

The learning resource has been designed and developed by Dr Siobhán McDermott, the CCA’s Digital Archaeologist. Commenting on the launch Siobhán said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer this resource to people across Northern Ireland. Having worked closely with local communities over the years we know that there is so much important local knowledge out there and we’d love to see this toolkit help empower people to research their heritage. It is free and online which makes it all very accessible.”

If you have ever thought of researching the heritage in your locality, organising a local archaeological project, or are just curious as to the work that archaeologists undertake then the Community Archaeology Toolkit is for you. You do not need any specialist knowledge or prior training to join in!

Enrolment is now open and if you are interested in signing up please contact Siobhán at s.mcdermott@qub.ac.uk before Monday 28th September 2020.


About the Centre for Community Archaeology at Queen’s

The Centre for Community Archaeology (CCA) at Queen's University Belfast undertakes outreach activities with local communities across Northern Ireland. The centre enables volunteer adults and schoolchildren to participate in archaeological fieldwork projects through community-based excavations, while facilitating the involvement of local people in the study of their local heritage. The centre is aligned with the Belfast Young Archaeologists' Club and with the Ulster Archaeological Society. The former offers young enthusiasts the opportunity to learn more about archaeology through monthly meetings and fieldtrips, while the latter has a long-standing relationship with Queen’s and hosts lectures, fieldtrips and fieldwork events.

About the Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership

The Lough Neagh Landscape Partnership (LNLP) was established in 2015 to help protect and enhance the built, natural and cultural heritage of Lough Neagh and received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver a range of community-based activities and projects over the period from 2016 to 2021. It is one of 90 similar projects throughout the UK and one of several in Northern Ireland. Their aim is to “Manage, conserve and enhance the Lough Neagh Wetlands environment whilst developing economic and social opportunities for local people and visitors.”

About the QUB Engaged Research Fund

The QUB Engaged Research Fund is an internal award scheme within the university that is intended to support projects with clear potential to increase opportunities for research engagement with external stakeholders or to further consolidate research relationships, and that are not currently in receipt of other funds which could reasonably support that activity.   

About the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. Thanks to National Lottery players, £41 billion has been raised for more than 565,000 good causes across the UK since 1994.  Follow @HeritageFundNI on Twitter and @HeritageFundNorthernIreland on Facebook and use the hashtag #NationalLotteryHeritageFund; www.HeritageFund.org.uk.

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