Letter: Archaeology Department should be invested in, to grow and thrive again

This letter was written by Ruth Morgan from the Hunter Archaeological Society

Friday, 11th June 2021, 12:26 pm
Updated Friday, 11th June 2021, 12:31 pm
A rally to save the archaeology department at the University of Sheffield. Picture: Chris Etchells

There has been a huge outcry – and rightly so - over Sheffield University’s Executive Board’s recommendation that the Department of Archaeology is closed down, with a couple of areas moved to other departments and staff made redundant.

The speed of the decision-making and the lack of transparency in the process are startling. Archaeology and the staff who teach it are at the heart of Sheffield life and we need it just now more than ever – Sheffield’s heritage is coming into the spotlight with the Heritage Strategy recently published by Joined Up Heritage Sheffield, and funding for the development of a Local List of heritage assets which will give them an element of protection. The popularity of the July Festival of Archaeology and September’s Heritage Open Days demonstrate how interested people are. It is also one of the best degree subjects to study because of the wide range of skills built into the training.

The Archaeology Department is embedded in city life. So many sites in Sheffield have had significant input from archaeologists at the University – Sheffield Castle, Manor Lodge, Whirlow, Rivelin valley, Wincobank, Bolsterstone Castle and more – through their expertise not only in excavation, but in training community members, in interpretation and in drawing down funding. Do we want to lose all this?

I write as Secretary of the Hunter Archaeological Society which has met at the University since its foundation in 1912. We rely heavily on the goodwill of our archaeological colleagues and they give it freely - our presidents are often University staff, our speakers are staff and postgraduate students, we visit excavations run by staff in the summer. The Archaeology Department should be invested in and allowed to grow and thrive again – please give it your support.