Cite this as: Tsang, C. 2021 Red Sky at Night: digital archiving in England 2020, Internet Archaeology 58. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.58.6
Across Europe, countries are at different stages of dealing with digital archaeological archives and how those archives are dealt with is affected by differences in statutory requirements, legal ownership of archives and infrastructure. In England, there is no single national repository for archaeological archives and there is no legal requirement to deposit either physical or digital archives with public bodies, and deposition rates for digital remain low. The archaeological sector remains aware of the implications of producing ever-growing quantities of born-digital data, which interested parties are attempting to address. The current framework and situation regarding digital archiving in England, therefore, offers an interesting case study for how digital archiving is dealt with through the application of professional standards, rather than legislative requirements.
This article aims to summarise the current situation regarding digital archaeological archives in England. Across the UK there has been a great deal of work and focus on archaeological archives, driven by two main factors: archaeological archives are curated by a network of regional and local museums and currently resources are shrinking in terms of storage capacity and archaeological curators. Repositories for physical archives can therefore be ill-prepared for the curation of digital archaeological archives, which can risk loss of archaeological digital data, and in 2017 this was recognised within the UK government's Mendoza Review (Mendoza 2017). This article describes the current work to resolve these issues - including strengthening the planning process, providing standards and guidance for data creators and repositories.
Corresponding author: Claire Tsang
Table 1: Percentage of ALGAO:England respondents that indicated at what stage their authority refers or expects reference to, a particular aspect of archiving
Table 2: Summary of question 5.4: 'In your experience, to what extent is digital data actively managed during project delivery in the following ways', adapted from Parker Wooding and Forster 2018, table 3
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