Amateur archaeology has a long and honourable tradition in archaeological research, yet despite its history, in recent decades the term amateur within the archaeological community, has deliberately been devalued from honourable unpaid endeavour, to a derogatory meaning of low quality.
The change happened in parallel with the professionalism of archaeology some 30 years ago, and the intervening years have been a perpetual rearguard action to maintain our independence of spirit, mind and action. Many reclassified themselves as independent archaeologists, and professional archaeology created their own new label of community archaeology and community archaeologist, to provide supervised investigation of mundane sites of little research value whilst handily giving paid employment to professional supervisors. Many of us, the intransigent, the stroppy, the boneheaded have held out, defended our amateur status and it honourable tradition by continuing to carry out out original research seeking new explanations, free of the closed mind of the herd mentality of the archaeological community, with the intention of taking the sum of our knowledge forward in a positive and valued way.
in November 2013 I attended a day conference at York celebrating 150 Years Of Roman Yorkshire, held by the Yorkshire Archaeological Society. In his summing up Professor Martin MIllet made a striking statement, he said that effectively the money has run out for archaeology, local archaeological units are closing, universities are scaling back, developer funding is drying up, and that the baton will have to be handed back to the local societies.
Those pesky amateurs will have to get their act together again, because it seems nobody else can or will.