‘Army Of Volunteers’ Needed To Help Monitor Scilly’s Historic Sites

bronze age potsAn innovative project that uses the latest technology to monitor historic sites on the coastline is coming to Scilly. And the organisers need you to help them.

Archaeologist Alex Bellisario says the CITiZAN project was set up last year, following the severe storms during the winter of 2014, which uncovered many previously unknown archaeological sites around England as cliffs crumbled or the sediment levels fell.

Some areas in Scilly, which has the highest concentration of Neolithic sites in the country, where particularly vulnerable to being washed away.

Alex says they realised a lot of interesting material was “just falling out onto the beaches” so there was a need to record the artefacts before they disappear.

“Archaeological sites are a finite resource,” says Alex. “Once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

The project, which has received £1.4m of Heritage Lottery funding, will be working with the Isles of Scilly Community Archaeology Group to run a training course here next month.

It’s open to anyone and they want to recruit residents to monitor changes to existing historic sites along the coast and report any new findings over the coming years.

Alex says they can’t afford to have specialist archaeologists in every part of the country, so instead they want to form an “army of volunteers,” especially people who regularly walk or use the coast, to monitor for any changes.

And they’ll be trained up in how to use the last technology.

Alex says the project has developed a smart phone app, which allows people to take photos and add relevant information, which can then be uploaded instantly to their central database.

All of that information is made available online.

And Alex says some parts of coastline can be difficult to get to or the sites are large. So the latest flying drones will be used to take photos.

The training course is being held at a real archaeological site on Porthcressa, and Alex says you don’t need any specialist skills to take part.

It’s not about writing academic papers or doing intensive excavations, she says, but just about having “an eye for it” and looking out for artefacts like flint or pottery.

You can use the skills towards an NVQ level 3 qualification.

There’ll be a presentation at the Museum on 21st September at 7pm, with the training taking place the next day, the 22nd September, at 10.30am at Porthcressa.

You can find out more about the project and sign up at www.citizan.org.uk.