WHY WE ARE EXCAVATING ROMANI SITES
Romani Community Archaeology aims to uncover sites and artefacts highlighting the
material culture of Romani Gypsies to combat modern misconceptions, and showcase Roma as a unique ethnic minority with a deep and rich history.
The practice of archaeology has been shown to improve mental well-being, education and communal feeling among a number of different groups, for example, military veterans, the homeless; and descendent communities.
Archaeology involves a combination of practical work, academic investigation, teamwork and is most often undertaken outdoors. There are a large number of other aspects that appeal to different people, for instance, the physical labour of excavation; photography; drawing; historical research; finds-based analysis, both scientific and nonscientific; computer-based work; studying the surrounding landscape; oral histories; etc. The wide diversity of vocational tasks and skills involved means that most participants can find something suited to them, to benefit them in their own journey.
The team's personal experience from other projects has demonstrated that participants not only showed marked improvement in their health and wellbeing but have also had a number of opportunities opened up, with participants going on to undertake an archaeology degree at university and a number going on to be employed by commercial archaeological companies.
As has been shown with other projects of this nature, the gains for the non-participants are as important and wide-ranging as those for the participants – leading to a deeper understanding and engagement with each other’s culture, long-lasting and deep friendships and ongoing ambassadorship.
OUR THREE AIMS
Education – We aim to educate both the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller participants and their wider community in the method and practice of archaeology and history. We further aim to educate the wider public about the rich history and importance of Romani culture in Britain and Europe, which is an integral part of Romani identity.
Engagement – By facilitating engagement through the project with Romani and non-Romani communities, we will enhance and expand knowledge and interaction between the communities and foster an environment of mutual respect, understanding and sharing of knowledge. The project will enable members of a deeply marginalized community to access activities from which they would normally be excluded.
Excavation – Through the practice of excavation and other archaeological techniques we will teach participants new skills, offer training in many other vocational areas, improve confidence and in turn their overall physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Archaeologists from Romani Community Archaeology, staff at New Forest Heritage Centre, members of the First Steps charity and members of the Thorney Hill community meet at the site of the former Thorney Hill Compound for the project's introductory picnic.