Islands of Stone is an AHRC-funded collaboration between the University of Southampton, the University of Reading and Historic Environment Scotland investigating Neolithic ‘crannogs’ in the Outer Hebrides. The construction of crannogs, or artificial islands, in Scotland was generally thought to have emerged during the Early Iron Age (c. 800 BC); however, one artificial island in the Outer Hebrides known as Eilean Dohmnuill, or Donald’s Island, has demonstrated much earlier origins. Originally believed to be of Iron Age date, excavations by Ian Armit soon revealed large quantities of decorated Neolithic pottery which would ‘change the direction of the entire research programme’ (Armit 1991: 444-45).
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust volunteers have been researching digitised versions of Archaeologia Cambrensis, the Journal of the Cambrian Archaeological Association, as part of the ‘Accessioning Arch Camb’ project. Using journal volumes hosted on ADS and the National Library of Wales websites, the project is helping enhance the regional Historic Environment Record (HER) for north-west Wales.
The following is a blog written by Chloe Rushworth, who has recently completed a 4-week Voluntary Placement with the ADS. Chloe has been working with the Curatorial and Technical Team to investigate some new approaches to how we interact with data within the Archive. Below, she gives a run through on her huge contribution to creating a ‘Curated Collection’ collating data that relates to sites participating in Heritage Open Days. The aims of this project are for this collection to work as an educational tool, to both increase awareness and knowledge of the archaeological and historical importance of the sites that are taking part in the Heritage Open Days, and to show how the Archive can add to the experience of the Heritage Open Days themselves.
In early 2020, it was decided to take a closer look into what impact our social media accounts were having on our archives. Did what we do on social media make a difference to who sees our archives? Were our tweets heard? Were our posts seen? Above all, were people finding our archives?
The ADS has (for nearly 25 years!) been providing free access to resources deposited with us. We put them online in open/accessible formats, people use them, and people cite them. We know people use them because we have data on page views and downloads. Some things are used a great deal; often high profile research resources that always gain alot of mentions in literature and social media. Others have more of a cult following, but are still used sporadically.
All these access statistics always make a good basic demonstration of impact; we can pass them onto project funders and stakeholders to demonstrate quantitative success. However the follow-up questions normally enquire as to “who” is using this data, and for what purposes. The ADS have many ambitions in regards to its (meta)data, but facilitating and demonstrating this re-use is a high priority. Over the last year I’ve had a chance to think more about what we could and should be doing, and how it can help us, our users, and depositors make more of the situation…
As part of the CBA’s #FestivalOfArchaeology in 2020, I spent a light-hearted day revisiting some of Internet Archaeology’s and ADS’s milestones. I also asked those whose paths intersected and crossed ours to join in and share memories.
The first half of 2020 has been an interesting one for sure. We’ve been working from home with our partners, children, and kettles as coworkers and we’ve begun to look at how information is presented on our website.
You may or may not have come to our site to find out guidance on depositing data. In that quest, you may have found a document/guide that was spread across several webpages, with no images, an over eager table of contents, and a reminder it was written in 2015. Well, you’ll be happy to know, that it’s gotten a bit of a face lift.
As many of you will have seen on social media last month, it is with great pleasure that the ADS can announce that it has been awarded CoreTrustSeal (CSA) certification. This is a massive achievement for a small digital repository, based out of four small rooms in the ‘tumbledown’ King’s Manor in York (well at least under ‘normal’ circumstances) and represents the culmination of many hours, weeks and months of hard work by all repository staff.
No preservation format is perfect. While physical mediums such as paper can last centuries under proper conditions, it is that qualifier that is key to its longevity. Everyone has seen what can happen to paper when it gets wet. Similarly, there are many horror stories of corrupted files that have helped create sceptics for using digital preservation over physical preservation.
We have had 4000+ years to develop strategies to conserve the ‘written’ word and less then 50 for methodologies to preserve digital data. However, as long as digital data is properly cared for, there is no reason that it too cannot last just as long.
There are two types of digital data; born digital which is data that has never been in a physical format or digitised data which was originally a physical before begin converted. Both types of face similar problems and today I‘m going to talk about one of the more hidden killers of digital data: data degradation.
Since a Beta release back in March 2017 we’ve received a great deal of feedback on the ADS Library application. We know it’s used intensively, with over 120,000 downloads in 2019, but as with any IT application there are places it can be improved!
For the uninitiated, the ADS Library was the outcome of a Historic England funded project to ensure the longevity of the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography (BIAB). BIAB had traditionally been maintained by the CBA, with records added into the database by hand from extant sources (see Heyworth 1992). As this approach became less sustainable in the digital age, it was also deemed advisable to combine this dataset with the growing number of digital unpublished reports and journals and monographs held by the ADS, the former mainly derived through material uploaded to the OASIS system. This was also an opportunity for the ADS to align its records with BIAB, and to have a single interface to cross-search all written works it held (traditionally, files from unpublished and published works sat in different databases). Having a unified database, with access to free copies of published and unpublished reports has also been in line with Historic England’s HIAS Principle 4: ‘Investigative research data or knowledge should be readily uploaded, validated and accessed online’.