The Future of Archaeology in England

In November 2020 the Society of Antiquaries published The Future of Archaeology in England: A Manifesto. It was the outcome of discussion within a working group established by the Society and its aim was to stimulate discussion about how we might better use the results of developer-funded archaeological work for public benefit.

Although various individuals and organisations have responded to the ideas in the Manifesto, debate has been rather muted, not least because of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic only a few months after its publication. The issues raised in the Manifesto remain important and the Society is keen to facilitate further debate about them. To this end, we are holding a seminar on Friday 25 November, both in-person at Burlington House and live on-line.

The seminar will have two principal strands. First, we wish to explore how different organisations and individuals from different spheres of the archaeological sector are successfully collaborating along the lines suggested in the Manifesto reviewing what is working well, and what could be improved, and how. Second, we wish to discuss how archaeology might operate in future, in particular, considering the potential of a regional approach, how to embed collaboration, and how to the results of research should feed back into the profession and out to inform the public.

To inform the debate we are currently issuing an invitation to all those interested in participating to let us know by the end of September. It is intended that those wishing to speak will be invited to pre-record their talks (5–7 minutes) so that their contributions can be circulated before the seminar is held. The seminar will then involve a panel discussion drawing on these contributions followed by a broader discussion. We hope that this format will allow as wide a participation as possible.

If you would like to submit a proposal for a video (either on behalf of an organisation or as an individual) please email Annabel Harrison at to receive a form to complete.

Keynote Speaker:

Professor Christopher Scull, Consultant Archaeologist

Christopher Scull is an archaeologist with research interests in early medieval NW Europe. From 2005 until 2010 he was Research Director at English Heritage. Since then, he has worked as an independent researcher and consultant with a range of academic, commercial and third-sector partners. He was Director (Research & Publications) at the Society of Antiquaries of London from 2016 until 2021, and is an Honorary Visiting Professor at the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University. His current commitments include the community archaeology project Rendlesham Revealed funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and managed by Suffolk County Council.


Dr Akira Matsuda, Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo

Dr Akira Matsuda is an Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo with research interests in public archaeology and heritage management. He obtained a PhD from University College London and was previously a Lecturer at the University of East Anglia and worked as a consultant at UNESCO’s Division of Cultural Heritage. His publications include: Reconsidering Cultural Heritage in East Asia (co-edited with Luisa Mengoni), Ubiquity Press, 2016 and New Perspectives in Global Public Archaeology (co-edited with Katsuyuki Okamura), Springer, 2011.

Dr Sadie Watson, UKRI Future Leaders Fellow

Dr Sadie Watson has been a practising field archaeologist for over 20 years, leading teams on complex sites in the City of London. She has a research interest in the archaeological profession and public benefit arising from our work, which she studied during her PhD and as the Archaeologist in Residence at the MacDonald Institute, University of Cambridge. In 2019 she was awarded a four year UKRI Future Leader Fellowship, and Sadie is now working on focusing on ensuring that construction sector spending on archaeology leads to meaningful and relevant research and genuine community participation.

Lizzie Glithero-West, Chief Executive of The Heritage Alliance

Dr John O’Keeffe, CEO Discovery Programme at the Centre for Archaeology, Ireland

A graduate of Queen’s University Belfast (BA (Hons) Archaeology 1995) and the University of Ulster (PhD Archaeology 2008), and a Chartered Construction Manager, John has extensive experience of archaeological research, regulation and practice across the island of Ireland. John worked for over 22 years with the Department of the Environment and Department for Communities in Northern Ireland, and from 2007-2020 he was a Principal Inspector of Historic Monuments and an Assistant Director with Historic Environment Division. In those roles he led on all aspects of statutory functions with regards to archaeology and the historic environment in Northern Ireland, from strategic and operational spatial planning, major research projects, the conduct of archaeological excavation, public engagement and the conservation of historic monuments. John has a keen interest in conservation standards, professional practice and public engagement and he has lectured widely, especially in adult education, about archaeology and local history, and served on many working groups and committees as an expert contributor on matters of policy, practice, academic development and public participation in the historic environment.

Format for the day:

10-10:30am: Tea and coffee for arrivals

10.30am–1pm: Chris Scull to give a keynote introduction to the Manifesto document and its main themes. Our panellists will then draw on their experience to discuss the organisation of archaeology and its future.

1-2pm: Lunch

2-4pm: Structured discussion session focused on the Manifesto document and the video proposals, with opportunities for responses from key stakeholders