Salon: Special Issue on Brexit
28 June 2016
Next issue: 4 July 2016
The Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter (Salon) is a fortnightly digest of heritage news. It focuses on the activities of the Society and the contributions that the Society's Fellows make to public life. A copy of Salonâ€™s editorial policy can be found on the Societyâ€™s website.
Please send news, comment and feedback for publication to the Editor, Mike Pitts, at Salon Editor (if you are reading this in an email, do not reply directly as we will not receive your message).
Salon does not review books, but the Editor is pleased to receive details and front cover images of new titles written by Fellows. Scholarly publications are reviewed in The Antiquaries Journal: for details see Publications.
Introducing this Special Edition of Salon
On 23 June, last Thursday, the British electorate voted on the question, â€˜Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?â€™ With a turnout of 72%, 48.1% voted to remain, 51.9% to leave, with a majority of 1,269,501. The Referendum is advisory, not mandatory. The UK remains indefinitely in the EU until Article 50 is invoked. Whether or not to do this is likely to be decided in Parliament in the autumn, rather than unilaterally by an as yet unknown Prime Minister. Before the Referendum, 75% of Members of Parliament said they wanted the UK to remain in the EU. Currently Parliament seems minded to back the public vote.
The consequences of the UK leaving the EU are troubling, unpredictable and profound; the mere reality of the possibility has divided the country, threatened to take the British economy back into recession, and caused concern around the world. These things are not in themselves an issue for the Society of Antiquaries. However, the potential repercussions for Fellows, their work, and all that the Society stands for â€“ as the Royal Charter of 1751 puts it, â€˜The encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countriesâ€™ â€“ are a matter for Salon.
Salon is uniquely placed to court and publish the immediate reactions to events, of a highly informed and engaged group of people who care about, and work with, art, history and antiquity â€“ a key part of the UKâ€™s â€˜creative industriesâ€™. On Sunday I invited Fellows to let me know their â€˜views on what any impacts [of leaving the EU] might be â€“ good, bad, a change in direction or trivial.â€™ The response was immediate, powerful and heartfelt. I have decided to post this special edition of Salon to publish all the comments, as received, regardless of views or repetitions. It makes a long read. This does not mean further comments will be ignored. Iâ€™d like to hear responses to this as well as to the Referendum itself.
At the end I will list some documents about the Referendum written by people working in our fields. Also further down are some comments I have received from people who are not Fellows, but who share some of our experiences and interests. First, however, and mostly, these are the words of Fellows, in the order I received them. The photo at the top is a view of the Alps: more below.
Fellows on Brexit
â€˜As a Fellow, I consider Brexit a disasterâ€™
On 5 July I travel to Milan to address ICOM on behalf of my international colleagues in the Frontiers of the Roman Empire project - at the invitation of the Dutch. That is one small example. Our problem is not that we will lose our personal contacts - friendships have been forged and will remain strong - but as archaeologists we know that we are part of a greater whole and it is the co-operation across frontiers, aided by the EU in so many ways, that will inevitable be damaged, and to the detriment of us all.
David Breeze FSA, Edinburgh
As Mao Xedong said when as asked about his thoughts on the impact of the French Revolution: 'It's too soon to tell'.
If politics shift further to the Right, which means the retreat of the state and greater reluctance to fund cultural and heritage activities (a process that has been going on since 1979), then the future may be bleak....
Matthew Bennett FSA, Sandhurst
I am the Chair of the Network of European Coal Mining Museums, made up of the national or leading coal-mining museum is Belgium, England, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain. The Polish member of the Network is responsible for financial matters of the Network and making applications for grants. The Network is currently preparing a bid to the EU, to be submitted in 2017, to set up a Council of Europe-accredited European Route of Coal Mining Heritage, similar to the already existing well-known European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH). The bid is to be submitted to the Creative Europe programme of the EU, and the Network is currently considering other partners who would also be eligible, such as coal-mining museums in Bulgaria and Ukraine.
I would expect that, by the time the bid is finalised and ready for submission, the United Kingdom will no longer be a member of the EU, and so will not be eligible to participate in programme. Only countries designated as eligible under the Creative Europe programme can be partners, and the funds are not available to enable the United Kingdom to pay the cost of joining the programme independently, even if that would be permitted under the regulations. So if funding is obtained to set up a European Route of Coal-Mining Heritage, it would seem that the many preserved colliery sites in the United Kingdom will not be included.
Margaret L. Faull FSA, Wakefield
As a French FSA living in France and working in the Near East, Cyprus, Central Asia and the USA, I do not think Brexit will alter significantly my activities. As a citizen, with a firm (and hopeless) faith in the â€˜reasonable and workable utopiaâ€™ that is the EU, I am dismayed by the results of the poll. Not less so that it appears that the young Brits voted massively for remaining. A victory of the elderly and fearful? Therefore, I will be most interested to hear the views among the Fellows, a group that does not appear to have been taken into account by the statistics in the media!
Annie Caubet FSA, Paris
My current concern is for the status of EU research awards that are due to commence this autumn, particularly those slated to run for 2 years and more. I am aware of one recipient still awaiting guidance from the home institution.
John Barrett FSA, Sheffield
Many thanks for this valuable initiative. One immediate effect of the Brexit vote is to scupper possibilities for applying for EU funding for international academic collaborations and research projects. I have been involved in a successful Leverhulme network bid to bring together scholars across the world. This will still go ahead but our hope was for it to lead on to a bid for a larger project funded by the EU.
This is only one story - you will garner many like this. But I just wanted to lend my voice and experience to reinforce that of others.
Katy Cubitt FSA, York
Leaving aside one's personal thoughts on the matter of Brexit. I have been teaching undergraduate archaeology and supervising archaeology and history MA post-graduate students here in Turkey for 21 years now. I have had a few very successful students in these disciplines being offered places for post-graduate study in the UK and elsewhere. Of all of those offered a place for PG study in the UK, two exactly took up the offer, the others being bedazzled by the onerous problems in navigating UK regulations, fees, etc., and the fees for PG study. One who did go to the UK went on to complete a damn good Ph.D. and now has a damn good job in a top-flight UK university. The other submitted a seminal account of Turkish archaeology in the 21st century. Of all the others who rejected the UK, they went either to the US of A or Germany for their Ph.D.'s - one even receiving a 7 year scholarship in the USA when all a certain UK university would offer her was 3 years tuition waiver plus lodgings. All of these ex-students, to the best of my knowledge, have cracking good Ph.D's and good jobs. The visa demands were bad enough pre-Brexit; so, the UK lost academic potential there. If Brexit does happen, then forget attracting any students from Turkey, a key location for Near and Middle Eastern archaeology. It was hard enough before: this will simply make it harder By the way, I recently became an Associate Professor... Not earth-shattering news by UK standards, perhaps, to be made a 'Reader', but it meant following what became a 10 year government-directed process that had to be approved at the end by the Minister of Education's appointed secretary for higher education - and started off with the approval of my GCE 'O' level certificates... Yes, 'O' level... You don't want to know the details - but I jest not, academic promotion is a damn sight easier in a UK academic institution than here!
Julian Bennett FSA, Bilkent
At a personal level the outcome of the Referendum seems to me to be a total disaster. More particularly as an archaeologist with close connections to most of the â€“ currently â€“ member states the inevitable loss of freedom of movement which I currently hold as a EU passport holder and the inevitable difficulties with co-operative projects following on the loss of EU status simply underscores my feelings. The possibility of Scotland breaking away from the United Kingdom I must say as one with Scottish heritage would simply serve the English nationalists right since it is likely that if this were to come to pass it would probably mean the end of the United Kingdom.
Vincent Megaw FSA, Adelaide
It's a very bad dream, UK turning its back on culture, history, internationalism and world politics. It will be very damaging to research, academic connections, funding, diversity of student body, European colleagues in our universities and our own intellectual opportunities and well being. I don't like the idea of being identified as a country of narrowly nationalist little Englanders giving up on our responsibilities to Europe and the world. And that is not to mention the fact that we are also now in a political crisis of our own making.
Dame Averil Cameron FSA, Oxford
â€˜It will be essential that our sector works to ensure that these issues are not forgotten in wider concerns over economy or immigrationâ€™
There are several consequences for HLF funding. One will be the cutting off of the EU as a source of match funding for some projects. This comes at a time when competition for HLF funding has been increasing and pressure on other sources of match funding has been rising.
Another possible consequence is the fall-out in Scotland. The HLF is at present a UK-wide funder and operates on a scale and with programmes (like the landscape partnerships) that enable really significant things in parts of the country where they might not be affordable within purely local resources. If there is a second independence Referendum the position and governance of the HLF (akin to the BBC) would be altered. That would be important in itself, while the fact of it might prompt new government thinking about the structure of heritage funding overall.
Third, and more generally, if there is a general election within the coming year, the complexion of the next government could be substantially different to what we have experienced in the last 20-30 years.
Richard Morris FSA, Huddersfield
The recovery of our independence was a necessary precursor to doing anything at all. Brussels (or is it Strasburg this week) could do anything it liked in our sector. We might like it or loathe it, but we couldn't change it or amend it. Now we can press for changes (an example being VAT on historic building repairs) where we no longer have to look over our shoulder because someone in Luxemburg doesn't agree.
But with freedom comes responsibility - we need to be even more involved in lobbying our MPs now they can actually enact something for those issues which matter to it.
Clifford Webb FSA, Surrey
The very obvious impact which will be substantial is the area of EU funding for research programmes and wider public engagement support for cultural heritage (including archaeology), under the overarching aim of Article 3.3 of the Lisbon Treaty. Cultural heritage is receiving significant amounts of EU funding from 2014-2020, with individual UK projects and multi-partner collaborations benefiting conservation, digitization, infrastructure, research and skills. Several EU programmes â€“ including the European Structural & Investment Funds, Horizon 2020, Creative Europe, Erasmus+, and Europe for Citizens directly support cultural heritage, as well as wider nature/landscape and environmental policies and programmes.
The Universities UK statement by Julia Goodfellow is an understatement in the least. At individual course and student cohort level, we have been already having to reassure undergraduate and postgraduate students who are understandably concerned and upset. Student recruitment is likely to be affected substantially, and this sends the wrong message for development of our globalised knowledge economy.
Ian Baxter FSA, Ipswich
For me personally working as I do for a local authority anything that materially affects the economy in a negative way has great potential to increase the need for further austerity measures and therefore the demise of more museum services that are a non-statutory provision. As Chair of the Society for Museum Archaeology I have already been feeling the full impact of the reduction on local funding since I have been approached by individuals seeking SMA's support in unprecedented numbers over the last 12-18 months. I do not see this situation abating. With regard to University EU funded research programmes these will potentially be hard hit - Times Higher Education reports for example that just over 28% of History & Archaeology research funding is currently derived from competitive UK and EU sources. Clearly this will impact universities but also those of us who care for and make accessible the primary records, archives and objects that provide the source material for this research. Any reduction in the use of such collections makes them vulnerable since for some organisations the lack of use, or reduction in use, will provide the opportunity (or excuse) to reduce the numbers of trained museum professionals responsible for this work. Finally it has been noticeable in my own organisation's collecting area that the level of developer-funded archaeological work has dropped in the lead up to the Referendum presumably at least in part due to nervousness about the economy and investment and it remains to be seem what the long term effect of Brexit will be on this. The financial trickledown effect from developer funded work is such that some museums are able to offset costs of caring for collections in some small way through charging for deposition of archives and this may not be possible at the same level although clearly the long-term effect on commercial units could be devastating.
Gail Boyle FSA, Bristol
I am devastated by this result. I think it is a terrible step backwards for the world, for Europe and especially for Britain. It is a victory for both greed and fear. We are back in the 1940s but without Adenaur, Schuman and Monnet. Can Mrs Merkel do it on her own?
Whatever its shortcomings in detail, the concept of international cooperation was embodied in this organisation (and hopefully still is for others) and its existence encouraged contacts at the highest level which could lead (and in the case of the Good Friday Agreement, I believe, did lead) to the growth of trust and the establishment of understanding to the great betterment of the life of many citizens.
Just yesterday the Anglesey Antiquarians were brought up short by the news that the Open Doors Scheme may not go ahead this September because it is an EU scheme. All over the country good, but small, local heritage initiatives will risk losing their support. Minor maybe, but a diminution of our cultural and environmental well-being.
Frances Lynch FSA, Bangor
I think that the extent to which the EU underpins conservation efforts may not be generally realized. Clearly neither archaeology nor history restrict themselves to national boundaries (many of which are in any case of comparatively recent date - the UK last changed its frontiers significantly in 1922). EU-funded projects have helped greatly to improve understanding of the past across Europe with UK specialists working with those of many other countries. EU-funded projects have also addressed issues of management of the historic environment. Whether or not UK institutions and specialists can continue to work in such projects with their valuable range of different perspectives will depend entirely on the nature of whatever settlement the UK manages to make with the remaining 27 members of the EU.
However, this is probably not the most serious aspect of the impact of Brexit on the interests of our Society. EU legislation also underpins much of our framework of conservation legislation. For natural heritage, the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive form the basis of much of our system of protection. Our legislation for dealing with illicit traffic in antiquities and works of art depends substantially on an EU Directive. In spatial planning, Environmental Impact Assessment is something required by another EU directive and has proved to be a valuable tool in dealing with contentious development proposals.
The contribution of the Common Agricultural Programme through agri-environmental schemes to the protection of archaeological sites is also very considerable. As just one example, the return of significant parts of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site to permanent downland pasture is the result of agri-environmental schemes largely funded by the EU. Possibly, these have been the biggest single source of funding for taking archaeological sites out of the plough over the last several decades. All these schemes could be reversed if the funding stopped.
All these (and other) pieces of legislation can be replaced, and possibly improved, by the UK government. There must be concerns however whether this will in fact happen or whether we will lose some of the protection we have now either through absent-mindedness or because other needs are seen as taking priority. It will be essential that our sector works hard and constructively to ensure that these issues are not forgotten in wider concerns over economy or immigration, for example, and that the government takes appropriate action to ensure that we maintain at least the same levels of conservation as we have now.
Christopher Young FSA, London
â€˜The UK takes out far more that any other country from EU research fundsâ€™
It has become abundantly clear that the EU Referendum was proposed without any thought given to its implications for the Union itself, the UK and the rest of the world. It was carried out on the assumption that it would result in little change to Britain's membership and consequently no contingency plan was drawn up for its failure. It is going to take months if not years to identify, sort out and rectify all the ramifications to this ignorant and aberrant decision by the British people (at least a part of them), and as both an archaeologist, specialising in Cyprus, and a former Australian diplomat, I am astonished by the lack of foresight on the part of the whole political establishment in Westminster. This is not what I have come to expect from British Governments and particularly the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
It is not just that the mainland of the United Kingdom, having weathered the Scottish independence Referendum unscathed, may find itself sundered by a further, and successful call for Scotland's independence but all the good work done to bring peace to Northern Ireland could be jeopardised by moves in Northern Ireland to remain in the EU or join the Republic of Ireland. Not only is Gibraltar facing an uncertain future if Britain leaves the EU as it will create an international border with Spain and revive Spanish pressure to take over the territory, but an extraordinary situation will be created in Cyprus if and when the British Sovereign Base Areas cease to be part of the EU and therefore Cyprus! It's bad enough that the island is already divided but to have international borders created unnecessarily as a result of the UK's folly is unbelievable.
All the other arguments which were advanced by the Remain camp are familiar to the point of ennui but it should be pointed out the EU's young people have known nothing but freedom of movement, use of the Euro (even in Britain!) and the opportunity to work where they want. The Referendum decision has plunged the whole upcoming generation of Europeans into a state of uncertainty which is as inimical to their future and the future of Europe as it is to the financial markets, trade and the region's economy. Our visit to London in February impressed us greatly with the multicultural vitality and promise of the city, since confirmed by Sadiq Khan's election as Mayor, and we can only applaud the idea that if London cannot become a city state on its own, it should secede from the UK with Scotland and form Scotlond.
Robert Merrillees FSA, Mailly-le-ChÃ¢teau
A disastrous result. Closing down European co-operation on many things that affect the Society as well as everything else. Grants will be difficult. Joint efforts to preserve antiquities in war zones - will that happen? Our talented European colleagues - will they be barred in future? The probable loss of Scotland and Ireland to the UK. Canâ€™t see any good coming from it at all. A divided country with much anger. Not trivial.
Barbara English FSA, Beverley
Too devastated at the moment to contemplate the impact!
Nicoletta Momigliano FSA, University of Bristol
Probably what I say is more-or-less what everyone will say: it's utterly ghastly, but we must try to salvage what we can. Obviously there are several possible scenarios at this point, but if exit really does happen, it is very likely (at least in the view of a Politics colleague of mine) that a great deal of existing EU regulation will need to be built into British law. Our task, presumably, is to do whatever we can to insure that that includes academic and cultural exchanges, collaboration including funding arrangements where possible), and protection of historic environments, sites and objects.
John Blair FSA, Oxford
I think exiting the EU will have long term very negative effects on the funding of scholarship and on our country's ability to attract and retain the best students, teachers, curators and writers on virtually all subjects of interest to Fellows.
In the short term many non-UK colleagues and collaborators already feel hurt, puzzled and anxious. I am certain Fellows will want to do all they can - collectively and individually - to reassure those colleagues that the proud tradition of scholarship without boundaries that the Antiquaries represented before and during the UK's membership of the EU, will be continued.
Greg Woolf FSA, London
Leaving the EU is a significant issue for me as I am currently the holder of an ERC [European Research Council] Starting/Consolidator Grant under their FP7 framework. My project (see online for further details) was funded because their rubric of funding â€˜Frontier Studiesâ€™ meant that they were looking for innovative, slightly risky projects that would not be considered by more cautious funding bodies. Too often with conventional funding we are required to almost know our conclusions before we apply, but the ERC allows experimentation and changing the focus of the work (within reason) because the grants are intended to genuinely push forward the boundaries of our knowledge into new areas of research.
In my case having this 5 year grant has enabled me to expand my linguistic skills (study Georgian and Russian) and spend extended periods of time based in Tbilisi to really get to know the country well and build up a network of contacts with Georgian academics. Having lived in Syria for a number of years, and my field work there being curtailed by the civil war, this project has given me an opportunity to explore the relationship between the two countries in Late Antiquity from both sides by immersing myself in Georgian culture and then applying that knowledge to my previous work on Late Antique Syria to build up a picture of Late Antique societal exchange. Obviously, this grant will be honoured and I know that funding will be continued through to the end of the project next year, but I had already been thinking about how I could build on this project and return with an application for an Advanced Grant in the future - even back at my interview in Brussels I was being encouraged to look forward to the next step on from this and the ERC strongly encourages its grant recipients to keep returning to them with future applications if they meet their targetsâ€¦.
The UK takes out far more that any other country from EU research funds - I have seen the figures and we leave Germany (the second biggest recipient) trailing in our wake. Even if we negotiate to become like Norway or Israel and register as an â€˜associated countryâ€™ do we really think Brussels will allow so much money to cross the channel in the future? Right now funding options for the Humanities and Social Sciences have suffered a major blow and I am not sure research funding in these areas is ever going to fully recover.
Emma Loosley FSA, Exeter
â€˜What a wonderful experience it was to wake up on Antiparos and to receive news that Britain was once again independent â€“ we are free!â€™
I am hoping that this Referendum result, which I gather is advisory, not binding to government, will give very little impact on archaeological scholarly activity. Joining the EU has little impact. There have always been Brits digging abroad, in Europe and beyond.
I hope the result will help people realise that what happens on the playing fields of Eton is still having major impacts on our political and media elites.
I hope the British economy doesn't take too big a dive. It would be a shame if a weak prime minister who was frightened of the right wing of his party and UKIP caused such suffering to hard working families. However, if you read the history of Britain there are plenty of examples of aristocrats and wealthy people doing just that. Well at least Mr Cameron has not reintroduced conscription and sent us to war. Things could be worse.
It is also sad for those who supported the Out campaign, for already they have been told that all the cash they said would be put into the NHS is not going to happen. Furthermore there will be no impact on immigration numbers for at least 2 years. The current government and the Out team have succeeded in demonstrating what an untrustworthy lot they are.
Archaeology is akin to ballet and mountaineering; signs of a civilised society. I doubt if any old churches will collapse. There are so many sensible people who value our heritage assets and the Lottery keeps making cash, so I think archaeology and archaeologists will survive.
Andrew K G Jones FSA, York
Taken in a general way (that is as a member of the public who only happens to be a Fellow of the Society) one understands that the vote in the Referendum is to be seen as one-in-the-eye for â€˜Londonâ€™, â€˜Westminsterâ€™, the â€˜politicalâ€™ elite, and the educated â€˜elitesâ€™ of London, Oxford, Cambridge and Edinburgh. The Society of Antiquaries thus fits the category of chief bugbear of the Leave Campaign, unbeknown perhaps to such voters, as also perhaps to ourselves.
The condition of the votersâ€™ responses nowÂ being offered across the country reveals delusions in the expectations of â€˜Leaveâ€™ supporters and considerable factual and inspirational ignorance in their discourse; a Church of England spokesman for â€˜Leaveâ€™ on the BBC4 Sunday programme this morning was to be heard inveighing against the Calendar Act of 1751 in the 500-year struggle of Anglicanism to escape the reach of Europe!
That the promoters of the â€˜Leaveâ€™ campaign have already begun to backtrack over some of the immediate benefits of the leaving that they were promoting only last week (financial and otherwise) should frame the expectations of all those whose work and interests in the sort of study, research, enquiry dependent in field and library, publishing and international exchange, and hitherto enjoying (whether directly or not) â€˜fundingâ€™. Such funding already being of limited extent can only become reduced.
It will be a delusion for Fellows encouraged by the possible boost to heritage interests in the apparent reclamation of â€˜Great Britainâ€™ to be achieved by the Leave campaign, to expect their elitist levels of enquiry to be given anything but short shrift in the likely debates over reduced funding for anything but â€˜marketingâ€™ and â€˜businessâ€™ to be unleashed now from the new political dispensation. The â€˜one-in-the-eyeâ€™ faction now to be in the ascendant are likely to give short shrift to all the â€˜regulationsâ€™ that constrain planning and development â€“ which do not all stem from Brussels of course but whoâ€™s to know that? - when self-interest to ride roughshod over others becomes the order of the day? â€“ and you might see this aspect as a specific question for our archaeological colleagues (particularly) to consider.
Stephen Massil FSA, London
I am sure that almost all Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries are as dismayed as I am by the outcome of this dreadful Referendum. We are Europeans. Every aspect of our archaeology, architecture, art, design, religion and philosophy is influenced by and entwined with the rest of Europe. We have in the past fought French, Spaniards, Dutch and Germans; but the European Union has splendidly put an end to such conflicts.
It is tragic that a majority of us has voted to end membership of this Union. They have done this in the face of warnings that it will be financially disastrous. There is a claim that we will recover our sovereignty; but most lawyers and parliamentarians I have consulted say that the impact of the European Parliament on our legislation is minimal. European directives on such matters as the environment or working conditions are sensible. The other supposed benefit of leaving is to reduce immigration. But this could be achieved only by imposing visas, for which there would certainly be retaliation. None of us wants this impediment to travel to the rest of Europe.
Lastly, a majority of younger voters wanted to remain in the EU. All those I know are angry that their future has been wrecked by a majority of deluded older generations.
John Hemming FSA, London
Working as a field archaeologist in the commercial sector the first thing that springs to mind is the impact that leaving the EU will have on pay and conditions and employment prospects. Regarding the latter, in the short term developers may find it more difficult to borrow resulting in a downturn in construction (and the archaeological work it generates). Things will be tighter all round, so we can expect less money/grants for research, community projects etc. Looking slightly further ahead (depending on decisions about free movement) there will be uncertainty about EU archaeologists working in the UK in future, and indeed UK citizens wishing to work in EU countries. I believe UK archaeologists (along with other workers) have enjoyed a higher degree of protection thanks to the EU. There is concern that employees rights may suffer. Junior field archaeologists would be particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
Bob Cowie FSA, Twickenham
â€˜Britain outside the EU is not an attractive prospect for most international studentsâ€™
I am sure that I will not be alone in saying that the result of the EU Referendum is nothing short of a disaster and will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect upon archaeological research and teaching in UK universities.
From my recent travels it seems to me that the number of students signing up to read archaeology in the UK is already in decline and many departments are under pressure. The loss of access to EU research funding may be the final nail in the coffin. I can only encourage archaeologists to be creative in the future and to find new ways of networking and securing transnational funding.
Thank you for asking. These are dark days.
James Symonds FSA, Amsterdam
In terms of your e-mail, is there also an opportunity to step back from the detail of the Referendum and UK withdrawal from the EU, and reflect on some broader themes which arise? For example:
- the essential qualities of good scholarly and intellectual endeavour (openness, collaboration, willingness to embrace difference, transcending boundaries, etc, etc). Not directly related to EU exit, but - I'd suggest - very pertinent to what's happening at the moment, and worth thinking about in that context.
- some current attitudes in the UK to facts, intellectual rigour and experts (e.g. Michael Gove's â€˜People in this country have had enough of expertsâ€™ comment during the Referendum campaign).
- the role which archaeology and history can play in helping us to see immediate events in a longer historical perspective (e.g. the propensity of faded or fading imperial powers to believe that they can return to their glory days). I'm not suggesting that societies necessarily learn from history - to my mind, there's some evidence that they don't - but I would argue that a longer-term perspective can help us better to understand what's lying behind short-term events.
I should emphasise that these are purely personal thoughts.
Roger M Thomas FSA, London
From here on the other side of the Pond my reaction to the vote is one of dismay. It is my impression that the majority of the positive measures that have been taken to protect and manage the heritage in recent years have been a result of EU initiatives. I fear that a UK outside the EU will fall prey to a strongly market-driven philosophy reinforced by greatly reduced public spending which will be both doctrinaire and inevitable, given the probable economic decline. Here in the U.S. we are of course facing a similar isolationist hard core conservative and populist surge. â€˜Interestingâ€™ times!
Ian Burrow FSA, New Jersey
The result of the EU Referendum is perhaps the most stupid thing that has happened for a long time. As it has to be ratified by the British government, let us hope that enough politicians still believe in the United Kingdom (and reject the result). Apparently the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish still do believe but not the English populist rabble-rousers.
For the record, I am a duel national, with both a EU passport (I was born in the UK) and an Australian passport.
Graham Connah FSA, Canberra
We are stuffed either way, as we were with euro. all a great worry.
Jack Tenison FSA, Pontypool
â€˜Our generations are the first that have not been made to go to war with our neighboursâ€™
Many thanks for inviting comments on the impact of Britainâ€™s vote to leave the EU. I cannot contribute any valuable views on the larger picture but I would like to offer a personal view of the matter by, well, by writing about the farm run by my family (on my motherâ€™s side) for the last few hundred years. It is situated in the AllgÃ¤u, looking south towards the glorious panorama of the Alps. That view alone should have been enough for anybody but Ludwig II of Bavaria very kindly augmented it by building a folly right in my great-great-grandfatherâ€™s view, known as Neuschwanstein (see photo at top).
That view on the one hand and the task of scraping a living out of the farm on the other should have been enough for anybody â€“ but the men of the family also had to go to the wars, time and again. The recently remodelled war memorial next to the village church is dedicated to the Dead of All Wars (above). It records seven names of local boys who had to go with Napoleonâ€™s army to Russia and never returned, three names for the war of 1870 with France. Somebody has gone to great trouble and collected photographs of all those who died in the two World Wars. The WW I panel records the names, dates and faces of 25 men, the one for WW II opposite shows another 47 â€“ from a parish of rather less than 800 souls, which incidentally explains why WW I was practically forgotten in Germany until the centennial behind the even larger catastrophe of WW II.
Two of the names on the WW I panel are those of my grandfatherâ€™s brothers, Georg and Peter, both killed in the Spring of 1916 on the Western Front. My grandfather himself was not strong enough to join the army so he looked after the farm and made babies. My mother was born in the same Spring, and two of her younger brothers were again named Georg and Peter in memory of their dead uncles.
In the next bout of madness, Georg and Peter, now in their early twenties, went to the Eastern Front. Peter was killed and is now remembered on the right-hand panel. Georg survived, badly shot up, and a third brother returned after three years in a Siberian POW camp, his health ruined (although I am happy to say he recently celebrated his 97th birthday!).
My mother named her first-born Peter, and of course I also have a cousin called Georg. Their generation, and mine â€“ and I am coming to the point of the whole story â€“ is the first that has not been made to go to war with our neighbours.
Quite to the contrary. I have been spending my whole life next to our borders, first to Austria, then to France and Switzerland, and now Poland. I have known them as very real borders, with passport and car boot control and customs to be paid for coffee and wine, and I have seen those borders disappear from the face of the earth! Speaking only of the Polish-German border region, there are now countless trans-border activities of real consequence to the people, many of them financed by the EU, and there is, for example, the joint Polish-German World Heritage Site of the Prince PÃ¼cklerâ€™s landscape garden at Muskau, cut in half for decades along the river Neisse after 1945 â€“ but now you can stroll again across the national border on a little ornamental bridge just like in PÃ¼cklerâ€™s time.
Coming back to my grandfatherâ€™s farm, it is currently being run quite successfully by my cousin and his wife. One of their two sons has been living in the US for some years now and is engaged to an American girl, but there is little doubt they will be coming back. The other son has returned to the family place after years of working in Australia and is gradually taking over the whole setup jointly with his wife â€“ an English girl from Cambridge who has been shaping up as a model young farmerâ€™s wife, hardworking and enthusiastic, looking after the cows and the cottage guests and the tourists. This is what the openness of the EU and the Twenty-first century have given us. It is nothing like the Twentieth Century and all the other times before it. One only has to look at the War Memorial to realise that hankering after those olden times â€“ which appears to lie behind a British majorityâ€™s decision for leaving the EU â€“ does not really seem appropriate.
Leo Schmidt FSA, Cottbus
As a Fellow, I consider it a disaster. It closes down many research options and will also have a deep impact, whatever our newly developing government may have to say, on research funding. With the impending break up of the UK it is also bound to severely damage archaeological provisions in northern England as inward investment will be drawn out further to Scotland when the rump of the UK has left the EU and Scotland have arranged to remain.
Richard Hingley FSA, Durham
â€˜Antiquity belongs to all people, and even more to those who cannot grasp the full meaning and importance of itâ€™
I am currently excavating in Greece and my Greek colleagues are concerned that the free tuition they enjoyed as part of the EC will stop and they'll have to drop out of their university programmes, graduate and undergraduate. Dozens of Greeks are doing graduate degrees in the UK and perhaps hundreds doing u/g degrees. We have a British assistant director at the Canadian Institute who will have to get a residence permit and probably a work permit, which may not be granted. So many potential issues...
Hector Williams FSA, Vancouver
In brief: bad, very bad, and a retrograde step in every way for UK universities.
Cyprian Broodbank FSA, Cambridge
As we actively engage with colleagues in other cities and organisations in Europe using EC funding, this will impact us. We come together with colleagues in Europe to address common problems, using the smaller European programmes to support the costs of travel and enable knowledge exchange. So what on its own would be a, say, Â£10,000 project, becomes a Â£50,000 with four other partners, with much wider outcomes. Sure, our share of the funding might be substituted (although it's been promised to the NHS and any other number of causes) but the outcomes from the wider project and learning from our partners won't.
Adam Wilkinson FSA, Edinburgh
The first thing that springs to mind is the impact leaving the EU will have on Countryside Stewardship, with its associated strategies for protection of the historic environment. In addition to the loss of funding for protection of the environment, there is a knock on effect as many local authorities now rely on earned income to maintain services (there is a charge levied for HEFERs [Historic Environment Farm Environmental Records]). Obviously the loss of an income stream will affect staff levels, and therefore service levels, leading to a further erosion of local authority heritage protection.
Ken Hamilton FSA, Norwich
I cannot envisage any good outcome from this result for British archaeology abroad. The standing of the two British Schools in Athens and Rome will be immediately diminished. Given that most archaeological projects nowadays have to involve a large degree of international co-operation, and given that British universities will no longer have access to ERC funding this will also have a very serious impact on our ability to put forward collaborative research projects -- particularly in areas where archaeologists need to strike up conversations with those in other disciplines. A project I was putting together with some Dutch and Swedish colleagues on ancient commensality Is in immediate jeopardy.
Our students and graduates will also face diminished opportunities. We in Cardiff have produced a number of excellent field archaeologists who are now embedded in archaeological units on the Continent, but I cannot see this continuing.
We are in the midst of a very, very black comedy where all kinds of chickens are coming home to roost. British prehistorians, being cultural nationalists, and accustomed to see Skara Brae, Stonehenge, Maes Howe and Avebury as equally 'British' may not feel that they will be affected by the result. But while I deplore the outcome, and in general am against any kind of nationalism, I would now rather be in Scotland than England or Wales. And there is an imp who sits on my shoulder who positively welcomes the prospect of English archaeologists having to apply for permits from a Scottish Antiquities service to excavate at Barnhouse in the Orkneys or anywhere in the Hebrides.
James Whitley FSA, Cardiff
â€˜I cannot envisage any good outcome from Brexit for British archaeology abroadâ€™
The results of the Referendum have already potentially negatively affected a project I'm just about to start for Historic England.
The Rooswijk is a protected wreck site lying off Kent and comprises the remains of a Dutch East India vessel sunk in 1740. The wreck is managed by Historic England for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Over the past year, Historic England has been working with colleagues in the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed â€“ RCE) and project partners in the UK in order to commence a staged series of remote sensing, diver investigation and excavation on the site later this year and next summer. Having secured funding for this joint international initiative from the Dutch Government and identified British divers, surveyors, workboats and crew, we were advised last week, by colleagues in the Netherlands, that planned work in 2017 may not now go ahead as a directed result of uncertainty associated with Brexit. While this is disappointing news, there are two immediate impacts. Firstly, employment of British marine professionals cannot be guaranteed for the planned duration of the project and secondly, Historic England will have to re-allocate internal resources to accommodate management of the Rooswijk that otherwise would have been met from external sources. So, the current situation is that the survey is almost certain to happen this summer, but planned diver investigation next year is in doubt.
Mark Dunkley FSA, Salisbury
As Antiquaries, we have one enormous advantage when it comes to thinking about the Referendum's fall-out: we are used to taking the long view of history. As the dust settles, we can begin to discern some things which past events have taught us we could have anticipated but which we were told simply hadn't been prepared, like Whitehall and the Bank of England having contingency plans in case of a vote to exit. From the Governor of the Bank of England on Friday, and the following Monday's early morning statement by the Chancellor, we learned that in fact they had been worked up well before 23 June. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the second was the revelation that the Chancellor had spent his 'invisible' weekend talking to exactly the people he could have been expected to have been talking to, including the detail that among them was one other who wasn't quite so expected, the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington - the man with whom (at least at present) the real power lies in the United States. Was it, one wonders, President Obama's remarks that inspired them to think the unthinkable?
Time will tell whether catastrophe is on its way. In the university world which I have inhabited for forty-five years it has certainly been predicted. Much has rightly been made of the benefits which accrue to staff and students from the EU's Erasmus programmes, and to research from Horizon 2020 and its predecessors. But given how many non-EU members are participants in both those, and the UK's position in the international rankings compared to its European counterparts, one has to ask if Brussels would shut the door to British institutions in a fit of pique. In fact there is probably a much greater threat to our research base from much closer to home. Successive Research Assessment Exercises and the Research Excellence Framework have succeeded in making UK universities international powerhouses. That could be about to change with the consequences of the new Teaching Excellence Framework, devised by the Minister for Universities and Science. Boris Johnson will be blamed for, or credited with, leading the Leave campaign, but his Remain brother Jo may yet turn out to be the Johnson who is the greater peril to what we, as Antiquaries, cherish as practitioners.
Michael JH Liversidge FSA, Bristol
Seid umschlungen, millionen.
To be a UK judge in the European Museum of the Year awards in the 1980s could often be unexpectedly rewarding. The competition which is still run under the auspices of the Council of Europe, was then then guided and led by Kenneth Hudson who, with characteristic foresight, took the view that museums from all corners of Europe were eligible to enter. So we were invited to inspect museums of all kinds, rich and poor, small and large, technological and archaeological; and we often ventured in to corners of that old Europe which the EU had not yet reached. We met curators, civic leaders and sponsors in Turkey, Estonia, Hungary, and East Germany, for example, at a time when many often felt strong bonds with those colleagues in similar fields, who worked in more propitious climates. For them, the accolade of recognition by the Council of Europe could be of some significance, and often of political, as well as cultural value.
One memory stands out: a modest lunch with the curator and his team from a social history museum in a lace making community in East Germany near the West German border. The inn was overshadowed by a watch tower, manned day and night. The border, the curator told me, had bisected the historic community: separating families, preventing any contact and making the story of its traditional manufacturing incomplete, lopsided and to that extent, false.
Perhaps on the scale of things, it was a small story, but it was a reminder not to take for granted the cultural values that freedom of movement within the EU could bring. And in this case, what seemed to be a permanent obstruction â€“ the iron curtain, no less - was gone within a few weeks of that conversation. I wished I had been there to share in the rejoicing.
David Sekers FSA, Yeovil
My opinion is that the loss of freedom of movement will have a seriously deleterious affect on anyone wishing to work, study, or carry out research in mainland Europe. It will also make it equally difficult for anyone to come to the UK for the same purposes. This will affect most of the areas of interest covered by the Society.
Peter Salway FSA, Oxford
I am deeply depressed and anxious about the future. The consequences of Brexit for universities are dire. What will happen to EU staff and students? To tuition fees? Research funding? But also outside of academia, I fear what Brexit will mean for archaeology. Another recession so soon after the last one will be terrible for commercial archaeology.
As for the broader effects on British and European societies - the future looks very bleak. A recession will make poor white people even worse off, and I expect their frustrations and sense of disenfranchisement will increase. I don't know if I'm being realistic or hysterical if I fear the rise of fascism as a result of this.
Susanne Hakenbeck FSA, Cambridge
As an 'independent scholar' I am not in a position to speak for any institution: I'm sure that their spokesmen and women will do so. But any controls that might in any way limit the free movement of students, researchers, scholars and other members of the academic community, in any field, must be resisted. The unfettered study of the humanities is just as important as that of the sciences, which too often are prioritised.
Nicholas Cooper FSA, London
I am far too upset to make a thought out and coherent comment about how his affects our work and funding. I feel this outcome viscerally at present. I self-identify as British and European. One of these identities has gone - the other (if Scotland leaves the UK) is under threat.
Tony Wilmott FSA, Romsey
â€˜The European research base is a critical part of the link between what we do as archaeologists and the intellectual cohesion of Europeâ€™
Views on the results on the Referendum for archaeology:
It is clear that money in the near future will be in very short supply, which is likely to have the usual effects on planned fieldwork and research, which is increasingly crowdfunded.
Developer led Archaeology is likely to grind to a halt, similar to the situation after 2008, when the recession starts biting.
Local government is likely to implement even more cuts...so townplanning/HER jobs are likely to go.
Without the regional development fund and the cultural grant funding, a large number of museums and heritage sites are likely to face closure.
Without access to European funding a lot of international research projects are likely to become very expensive and the British scholars involved are likely to find themselves isolated from the research conducted in Europe, it is also likely that some of the laboratories will be likely to close.
With less money in the economy, the chances are less money is coming into the Lottery and thus less money in the Heritage Lottery fund, cutting the surviving heritage sites/museum even further.
We are probably going to see a brain drain, when large numbers of our better established scholars move to positions overseas.
Research projects by English/Welsh institutions in Scotland are likely to face serious administrative challenges, should Scotland declare independence.
Over all, I think the chances are good that another generation of archaeologists are going to find themselves working in B&Q, if at all. What a shame.
Birgitta Hoffmann FSA, Manchester
The result of the Referendum was a huge shock for many of us, and if Britain were to leave the EU it would be little short of disastrous for the nation in terms of the huge loss to our economic and cultural capital. With regard to the kind of work that most of us do as Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries, there can be no doubt that university funding would suffer negative consequences through loss of student income (Britain outside the EU is hardly an attractive prospect for most international students) and greatly reduced EU research funding. Public sector funding which supports higher education and heritage is likely to be negatively affected by reduced investment in the UK and the subsequent shrinking of public sector budgets. I can see no bright side to this, apart from finding a way to stay in the EU, either through a general election or a second Referendum.
Helen Fulton FSA, Bristol
Well, I guess it's still really early days to know exactly what will happen - but naturally I am interested to find out whether there will be any effect on my status as a British national living in another EU country (I do have a permanent residency permit, so that's something). Professionally, I was already corresponding with colleagues at UK universities this morning about our Erasmus agreements. Our feeling is to get in as many visits as we can between our institutions, in case this is not possible in 2 years' time. Similarly, it remains to be seen the extent to which Finnish (and other European) universities can collaborate on EU-funded projects with UK partners. We'll see...
Suzie Thomas FSA, Helsinki
A couple of thoughts. At the practical level, the impact will be major in terms of scientific funding, from which archaeology has benefitted. The ERC is a quality driven, non-thematic organisation, in contrast to the way in which Research Councils have moved, and so the less economically relevant fields will suffer. Less tangibly, there has been a genuine growth in European-centred approaches to research, moving away from the more American dominated one. As Asia grows in importance, a weakening of the European research base will be very damaging. It is a critical part of the link between what we do as archaeologists and the intellectual cohesion of Europe.
Robert Foley FSA, Cambridge
Earlier this year I was invited by the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, based in Boston and Kabul, to be Editor-in-Chief of a new international scholarly journal on Afghanistan. The Institute was very anxious to broaden its remit and membership outside the US so to both encourage and reach international scholarship on Afghanistan. Hence, asking myself, based in UK, and expressing a preference for a UK or European academic publisher for the new journal. I accordingly took the proposals to Edinburgh University Press, who I am delighted to say have enthusiastically accepted the proposals.
Of course, Brexit does not directly affect the new journal, and we still plan to launch the first issue in 2018. But the prevailing new message of parochialism and isolationism that Britain is now giving to the world does rather weaken the international argument for preferring a UK publisher in the first place.
Warwick Ball FSA, Galashiels
As someone who researches the public perception of archaeology in Europe, my main concern is how the past history of the UK has been used as a tool for propaganda. Archaeology may not be able to appeal to popular sentiment on the same scale as events of the Second World War and its aftermath, which have been referenced throughout the Referendum campaign, especially by far right organisations in the UK. However, we must ask ourselves, do we have anything to contribute to a desperately-needed sense of community and cohesion, outside nationalistic sentiments, and how might we best examine, discuss and promote balanced thought on the diversity of our deep historical links to the continent, to the long history of migration and settlement, and to the heterogeneity of the past and present inhabitants of these islands? Indeed, in a post-expert society, if that is what we have now become, do we have a role at all?
Lorna Richardson FSA, UmeÃ¥
What a wonderful experience it was to wake up on a balmy morning on the Greek island of Antiparos and to receive wonderful news that Brexit had won, and that Britain was once again independent -- we are free!
I always thought that the basic premise for the EU was false, the basic premise being that biggest is always best. Britain is just the right size â€“ we are a coherent society pursuing our own distinctive philosophies.
Frankly I don't think that Brexit will make any difference at all to the Society. We are a wonderfully British institution, our wonderful library is all almost totally British â€“ as anyone who tries to research world archaeology will discover to their cost. Our external Fellowship is widely scattered in America and the Commonwealth as well as in Europe, and we receive no bribes - or should I say grants from the EU. So we should just continue as we are, though we should improve our attempts to showcase the best of British archaeology â€“ the recent lecture series was not inspiring. And we should always remember that today the big enemy is an internal enemy â€“ the Charities Commission.
Greetings from sunny Greece (where everyone says, Congratulations - we're going to be next!)
Andrew Selkirk FSA, London
â€˜A large number of museums and heritage sites are likely to face closureâ€™
If I could just ask people to spare a thought for the Crown Dependencies e.g. the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. We didn't get a vote in the Referendum but our association with the EU is automatically impacted by the decision. We are not part of the EU but have access to the EU via Protocol 3. As an attachment to the UK Treaty of Accession, it is dependent on the UKâ€™s membership of the EU and will come to an end when it finally leaves. It is unlikely that we will be at the forefront of negotiations but as small communities we will be significantly affected by the outcomes. We don't get any EU grant funds but we can participate in some EU programmes. For example we are currently Associate Partners in a Creative Europe programme called Follow the Vikings led by the Shetland Amenity Trust and including the York Archaeological Trust. Our resources to protect our rich cultural heritage are already stretched very thinly. We would want the excellent work done by the EU in promoting cultural heritage to continue.
Edmund Southworth FSA, Manx, Isle of Man
The following comments are from people who are not Fellows of the Society.
â€˜I have had my first notice of a cancelled job, 08.59 todayâ€™
Fellows who study the distant past are well placed to help us imagine the world that the Brexit numbskulls are taking us back to. But as 'experts' they can expect to be increasingly dismissed and disdained. I'd advise them to begin applying for jobs overseas as a hedging strategy.
James Doeser, London
As an archaeologist who has recently been awarded a PhD [in zooarchaeology] and who hopes to have a career in research and academia and hoped to become a Fellow in time to come I am now extremely apprehensive and worried. I hope that the UK will be able to negotiate favourable terms for EU workers to live and work in the UK but also provide continued funding to universities so that research can continue and UK universities can remain as leaders, especially in the humanities. Unfortunately I fear that the uncertainty that will dominate until the picture becomes clear will make it harder than it has ever been for new academics to secure research fellowships or teaching positions because universities will be unwilling to commit to hiring new staff for fear of not being able to keep them. I think this will also affect those wishing to work within the museum sector for the same reasons.
Both my supervisors, my internal and external examiners are Fellows. I am a non-British EU national and a wheelchair user, now I believe that I will have an even steeper mountain to climb to achieve my aspirations.
I am very interested to see the opinions of other more experienced Fellows and hope I am wrong.
I really understand the frustration uncontrolled immigration and EU bureaucracy had caused to UK. You can be sure that my home country had experienced the full force of both, profoundly and at a huge cost. Greece became poised to do something a bit â€˜Un-Europeanâ€™ and seems to me that Britain also did the same. If you add English nationalism, it is no wonder that the Leave vote has abound. On the other side Tony Blair has very nicely described a very important point on the issue, and I quote: â€˜This turned out to be a complaint vote, but in reality this is a decisionâ€™. I would like to believe that the consequences of this decision are going to be positive, but this remains to be seen. What seems to surface out of the Referendum, ex-post, is the increased social split; that is not good.
The same questions were raised in other prestigious international societies in UK, like the Royal Philatelic Society London, where I am a Fellow and the representative in Greece. Like SA we are a very international body of collectors and researchers. We are 735 Fellows and 1466 members, of which 58% come from other countries.
In both Societies however, I have the feeling that our common love for philately and archaeology, will prevail.
I could not imagine the Society of Antiquaries tickling over such an issue, and even though, as analysis of the result has substantiated, the Brexit was largely driven by older people, I am absolutely certain that SA would never raise barriers in the flow of ancient precious gnosis. We are all the recipients and preservers of our past, and this is not British, Greek, Roman, Assyrian, Egyptian, Babylonian or whatever; itâ€™s global. Antiquity belongs to all people and even more to those who can not grasp the full meaning and importance of it, and like the Greeks sometimes they want to do something 'crazy'.
Letâ€™s stick together therefore and we will overcome.
I can confirm that I have had my first notice of a cancelled job, 08.59 today [Monday]. A fairly small housing development evaluation. Client says they're on 'Brexit hold'.