2. Integrating Digital Public Archaeology Research: scales of engagement

There are numerous approaches to the definition of 'community archaeology' and 'public archaeology', and the methods, theory, practice and ethics of these undertakings (cf. McGimsey 1972; Schadla-Hall 1999; Shanks and McGuire 1996; Marshall 2000; Moshenska 2009b; Skeates et al. 2012; Bonacchi and Moshenska this issue, fig. 1). The various approaches have been identified (Matsuda 2009, 41) as operating on a continuum from 'outreach', to more explicitly political critiques (Moshenska 2009b; Faulkner 2000).

In line with this continuum, we believe our project worked through different scales of digital public archaeology approaches. In addition, a number of 'spin off', 'bottom-up' digital public research projects have been undertaken as a result of work carried out for HeritageTogether (see discussion below). While digital data was at the heart of the project, our strategy was not simply to seek contributions from members of the public in order to produce 3D models; we deliberately also engaged with a range of more traditional forms of archaeology with the public (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Composite picture of forms of public archaeology undertaken for HeritageTogether. As well as digital public archaeology outreach provided through our website, we made use of a range of more traditional forms of engagement. It was at these events that nearly all of the spin-off 'bottom-up' collaborative projects we have been involved with came about

In terms of the digital work, the project website was launched in January 2014, and by November 2014 it had had 2,897 unique visitors, and 20,024 page views. However, the site had a high bounce rate of 55% – people looking at the site then leaving straight away, either because they were not interested in the site or were spam bots. Taking a very crude approach to the statistics, in November 2014, our website gallery had c. 11,000 page views by people who were at least interested enough to stay and take a look round, and probably by c. 1600 real people. These figures give us a measure of relatively 'superficial' engagement. We cannot claim that these views represent deep and meaningful forms of digital public archaeology, or that these experiences were transformative for the individuals, but we argue that they do represent engagement with self-selecting members of a digital public (see discussion below; Figure 3).

At a more developed level, our gallery – the actual output of our digital public collaborative research project – had received, in November 2014, 380 unique and most probably real visitors (rather than bots), had 9,974 page views, and an average visit duration of 9 minutes and 36 seconds. Again, we think that although this might not represent a 'deep' and 'transformative' example of digital public archaeology, this might be analogous to the kind of experience at archaeological sites when visitors read official site notice boards or guidebooks. These visitors are self-selecting; they choose this use of their time and resources, akin to visiting a real-world archaeological site. We feel that this represents an important aspect of digital public archaeology.

At the most developed and engaged end of the spectrum, members of the public signed up to the site, producing and contributing thousands of photographs of sites. These photographs formed the basis for our digital 3D models. Photographs were contributed by a relatively small number of people. We have 114 people signed up for an account that allowed posting rights in the forum. Of these, 34 people produced data for 80 models of 78 sites across Gwynedd and Anglesey. In total, in November 2014, 13,064 digital images had been co-produced. The sites to record were selected by members of the public, though open days at the Neolithic passage tombs of Bryn Celli Ddu and Barclodiad y Gawres, and archaeologist-led walking tours or site visits at other sites may have directed attention to a specific sub-set of archaeological sites in our study area. Bryn Celli Ddu is a Neolithic chambered tomb, with a complex development sequence of activity. The Bryn Celli Ddu landscape became a focus of attention for the project, which eventually led to the start of a landscape public archaeology project jointly run by Manchester Metropolitan University and Cadw.