An excellent talk by Lara Band who co-manages CITiZAN South East which is based in the community archaeology department of MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology)
CITiZAN or the Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network monitors and surveys archaeological sites at risk from erosion along tidal estuaries and coastlines
Lara discussed the fact that over the past couple of decades coastal erosion has destroyed or endangered a number of unique historical landscapes around the coastline and that increasing environmental uncertainty has made it imperative to record endangered sites whilst this is still possible. In the early 1990’s English Heritage estimated that approximately 17000 sites were at risk but by 2013 this figures became vastly elevated following increasingly frequent and violent winter storms. Lara offered the example of the extraordinary discovery of the Happisburgh hominid footprints which were uncovered following one violent storm only to be destroyed by the next. Increasingly the equivalent of several years erosion is occurring in a single night and this trend looks likely to continue.
The work of CITiZAN is to record everything possible as unfortunately it is impossible to save the majority of these sites. The records themselves are growing into a giant dataset which is most accessible as CITiZAN’s interactive map via which records all such sites and gives a base for monitoring sites over time.
An important and exciting aspect of CITiZAN’s work is training large amounts of volunteer CITiZAN surveyors who, using the bespoke smartphone app can create and update vast amounts of data in a way which would be impossible for a few professional researchers. To enable this CITiZAN run frequent outreach and training events and everyone in encourages to download the app or access the interactive map on the website.
A thoroughly enjoyable talk during which many of us were able to access the online dataset and I’m sure that a number of us will be looking forward to attending a training event to become fully fledged volunteers.
CITiZAN’s website address is http://www.citizan.org.uk/. They have feeds for Twitter and Facebook and their app is available from the Apple Appstore and Android Play Store.