Unlike in Finland, when defining a professional archaeologist, the degree is not an end in itself In Britain, but the practised skills and the length of experience. In Finland your university and its archaeology department teaches not only you how to do excavating, but also how to organise an excavation and write an official report, but in Britain the responsibility beyond the basic skills lies with the individual and the employer. You get the experience, skills and training, sometimes enhancing by attending an MA course at a university, and your employer may help you with the Continuous Professional Development (CPD). If you want to be accredited, you will apply to the now Charted Institute for Archaeologists (former Institute of Archaeologists) and they validate your experience based on your CV, experience, portfolio and two references. You can enter at different levels and I have entered as a full Member. I was a MIfa, but will I now be a MCIfA? Yes, I am now two up.
However, in Britain I also was a member in a local field group in Leicestershire after the birth of my young son. This was partly out of trying to understand the local archaeology, be a student of Peter Liddle, in practice the father of community archaeology, partly out of pure love in archaeology that has always manifested in keeping a wide interest in the discipline and in order to improve my chances in getting professionally into British and community archaeology. As a Mediterranean archaeologist, I feel often that I lack some of the credibility among the British field archaeologists, an academic archaeologist, even if I had an MA in Landscape Archaeology from Bristol and have worked for the Cambridge Archaeological Unit. Then I got the post in Sweden and sadly did not have time to go fieldwalking any more, while balancing the work in Sweden and home in Britain with long stays away. I also recently heard that the nearest group had been wound down.
Is it me or not? Perhaps not, but I worked at Grand Arcade, Cambridge (photo linked from the CAU web site)
However, even if I was sitting in the pottery training and walking across the fields as one of the group members, the two roles, as a volunteer and as a professional archaeologist, did merge and blur when it came to test pitting. Our group could do test pitting independently at least on one occasion, since I, an archaeologist and a MIfa, could oversee that everything was carried out properly, records were made and reported further, even if Peter, then still the Leicestershire community archaeologist, could not be there. Even if the presence of an archaeologist is not required by law as long as the landowner approves outside scheduled monuments, the best practice suggests that the volunteers are instructed and assisted. The second time this blurring happened when there were not enough volunteer archaeologist to oversee the test pitting as part of Anstey Big Dig, organised by the Charnwood Roots project. I was there, so my friend could have her garden test-pitted and have a lovely family garden party around it.
Recently, I have been teaching British archaeology especially online. In addition, just a few weeks ago I was also chosen to be the Social Media Communication Officer of the Royal Archaeological Institute and will be promoting our learned society and archaeology in the British Isles and participate in drafting social media policy documents. I am definitely now a British archaeologist, in its many connotations, too.
Not that my Nordic or Italian interests go anywhere. On the contrary, I will be more involved actually. To be continued. Next week: Sweden.