Director's Foreword / ADS Update | ADS Guides to Good Practice get a major update | The Shape of Things to Come | European Project Update |
Collection Highlights | Staff Update & Crossword

Director's Foreword

Julian Richards

Professor Julian Richards
ADS Director

Welcome to the 23rd Edition of ADS News. The first half of 2009 has continued to offer a number of exciting opportunities and challenges. Work has continued apace on many existing projects and there has been the addition of a few new ones to our broad portfolio. In particular, this issue headlines on the exciting plans for a complete update and redesign of our highly successful and much used Guides to Good Practice series. This work was briefly mentioned in my last Director's Foreword, but since then, not only has it has been formalised, but work has in fact got underway under the editorship of Kieron Niven. Since their original completion in 2003, these guides, which cover a range of topics from GIS to Digital Fieldwork Archives and from VR to Geophysics, have become a major resource in archaeology and are highly thought of around the world. Indeed it is this international dimension that has facilitated the much anticipated updating work on the guides, with international funding and partners from the USA and Europe participating in the production process and giving us the benefit of their particular national perspectives. For the full story see the article on Page 5.

Also in this issue we present the usual round up of the latest archive releases and of the ADS's work in European projects as well as the regular insight into the archives that are staff favourites. One project discussed in this issue that will be of particular interest to readers who curate, host or deliver archaeological information is an update on the progress of the HEIRNET registry which allows all types of cultural heritage data, from web sites to full blown web services, to be discoverable from a single source. This will greatly enhance the opportunities for the meaningful combination, cross searching and aggregation of numerous data sets. Although the registry is a relatively small project for HEIRNET itself, it is likely to a have a big impact on archaeological data management practice and ultimately on archaeological research.

Finally on Page 7, there is a feature tantalisingly called 'The Shape of Things to Come' this contains the first public details of the ADS's mysteriously named 'RedSquid' project. This project has seen a root and branch overhaul of some of the ADS's most important information management, search and dissemination mechanisms. For regular users the most obvious result of this project will be the launch of the redesigned ADS website, including the updated ArchSearch mechanism. This new site will be released via a public 'Beta' testing phase shortly after the publication of this issue and all users are encouraged to take up the forthcoming invitation to register as a 'Beta' tester for the new site, it's a great opportunity to tell us what would be most useful to you as well as checking out the site's exciting new features.

ADS Update


This section covers just a few of the new resources made available via the ADS since the last issue of the newsletter. A quick visit to the Collection History page of our website will provide the complete list. It is also possible to be kept up to date on new releases via the ADS RSS feed available from our home page.

Wangford microlith and Reculver hand-axe. Painted by B.O. Wymer  c.1955 from the Wymer Archive

One of the most intriguing archives ever released by the ADS is the J. J. Wymer Archive . This comprises a fascinating collection of notes and images from one of the giants of British Palaeolithic archaeology. The Wymer Archive Project arose out of a perceived threat to Dr John Wymer's personal archive following his death early in 2006. Considered to be a unique record of British Palaeolithic archaeology and including his Field Note Books (1949-2004), it is also a tremendous source of images of archaeology and archaeologists at work from the middle of the last century. (See also the Collection Highlights ) .

The last few months has also seen the release of two fantastic resources from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). The first to be released was The eastern cemetery of Roman London: excavations 1983-1990 . It covers archaeological excavations conducted between 1983 and 1990 at different sites within an area covering about 12ha in the modern London Borough of Tower Hamlets, to the east of the City of London, which produced evidence for a large Roman cemetery. During these excavations 136 cremation burials and 550 inhumation burials were recorded. This archive contains the extensive and detailed reports from this important site.

The second archive resource from MOLA is The Cluniac priory and abbey of St Saviour Bermondsey, Surrey: excavations 1984-95 . This is centred on the site of the Cluniac priory and later abbey of St Saviour Bermondsey. The site, formerly in Surrey and now part of the London Borough of Southwark, is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Like the eastern cemetery project above, important parts of the digital archive are being made available through ADS as part of the English Heritage Rescue of Complete Archaeological Projects (RECAP) to ensure continued access for researchers.

The Beaker round barrow at West Cotton, Raunds. Photo : Northamptonshire Archaeology.
The Beaker round barrow at West Cotton, Raunds

Also of note is the Nene Valley: Archaeological and Environmental Synthesis, Northamptonshire Archaeology and Exeter University. The Nene Valley has been subjected to extensive mineral extraction over the years. This resulted in many large and small excavations that have produced large bodies of environmental data. When combined with the complete mapping of the crop mark data this makes the archaeological data for the Nene Valley unusually extensive. This project was designed to present the evidence of the character of the relationship between the environmental and archaeological record and variations in the watertable for the Nene Valley from its source in Northamptonshire to Peterborough.


Heirnet logo

Work has continued on the HEIRNET registry, first mentioned in ADS News Issue 20 . Whilst the register itself has continued to act as a valuable resource for recording information on all manner of historic environment information resources, the need for a more sophisticated register for web services was acknowledged as far back as 2007. A register capable of holding technical information on web services (in addition to web sites, RSS feeds or Z39.50 services etc.) was identified as a desirable outcome from the HEIRNET 'Data Sans Frontières' conference held at the British Museum. This register will act as a central point of discovery, and specification, for all historic environment web services that seek a wider audience, whether simply by user access or by 'mashing-up' or aggregating with other appropriate services.

The good news is that the new registry will be demonstrated to the next HEIRNET meeting scheduled for July and (subject to approval) will be released and promoted to the wider community shortly thereafter.


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