Norfolk archaeology cuts criticised by TV presenter Mary Beard

Classics professor and TV presenter Mary Beard, who has criticised proposed cuts by Norfolk County C

Classics professor and TV presenter Mary Beard, who has criticised proposed cuts by Norfolk County Council. Pic: PA/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Cuts which would see the loss of posts in a free service which helps identify archaeological finds in Norfolk have been criticised by Cambridge University classicist and television presenter Mary Beard.

As part of Norfolk County Council's attempts to plug a funding gap, £123m of cuts and savings have been proposed, including slashing £172,000 from the Historic Environment Service.

That would reduce four and a half posts in the identification and recording service, which logs finds made by the public, to two posts - funded by the national Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Prof Beard, professor of classics at Cambridge University and presenter of BBC programmes such as Meet The Romans, said: 'A fifty per cent cut will do more than cut the 'output' by fifty per cent. If the whole process slows down and loses expertise, then people who find things will be far less keen to come and report them. The historical benefits and good will of the system that has been built up will be lost.'

Writing in the Times Literary Supplement, she said: 'Okay, so it's not as affecting as the old lady whose already inadequate homecare is being cut by another 10 minutes. But something else we will come to regret.'

More than 1,000 have signed a petition against the cuts here.

A county council spokeswoman said: 'As with all Norfolk County Council services, a review is being undertaken to look into where potential savings can be made as the council faces a £111m budget gap over three years in the light of continuing reductions in government grant and rising demands for council services.

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'Our budget consultation, which closes on January 14, includes the proposal to stop funding the Identification and Recording Service for archaeological finds. If this happened we would seek to mitigate the impact by increasing our use of volunteers and by encouraging more self-recording.'

People can have their say on the budget consultation here.

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