MSP supports drive to recruit ‘citizen archaeologists’

Talk about good timing. Today the academic archaeologists and scientists of Leicester University drove sky high the attraction of this particular science by revealing that the skeleton they unearthed last September [2012] in a council car park in the city was indeed Richard III.

On the same day, Dave Thompson, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch met the Scottish Coastal Heritage at Risk Project (SCHARP) to learn about how citizen archaeologists can help to preserve archaeological sites.

The very notion of ‘citizen archaeologist’ carries mysterious reverberations of revolution – and indeed this scheme is quite revolutionary in its own terms.

Dave Thompson says: ‘Scotland has one of the longest coastlines in Europe and there are a wealth of rich archaeological sites such as the discovery of a Viking boat burial site at Ardnamurchan; or the many Brochs found throughout the Highlands and Islands, including Dun Telve and Dun Troddan in Glenelg.’

SCHARP estimate that there are no fewer than 12,000 sites of archaeological significance in just 40% of Scotland Coast.

However, a serious concern is that the coast is so dynamic, it is impossible to keep up to date with what is being revealed or destroyed.

For this reason SCHARP are asking for volunteers to survey, record and submit reports on their local coastline – to become ‘citizen archaeologists’.

Dave Thompson, understanbaly fired up by the notion and the need,  says: ‘I would encourage anyone interested in getting involved as a citizen archaeological to get in touch with SCHARP [online here] to find out how to do so. They have produced a smartphone app and an interactive map to assist volunteers.

‘Our coastline holds many secrets and their discovery and preservation can inform us about the history of our land, as well as being an inspiration to our children.’

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