Licence to dig: How James Bond kept a golden eye on our heritage - The Evesham Observer

Licence to dig: How James Bond kept a golden eye on our heritage

Evesham Editorial 29th Dec, 2019   0

FIFTY years ago as George Lazenby became the youngest actor to embark on Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Worcestershire’s own James Bond was preparing to earn his licence to dig.

But there was no Aston Martin for the man with golden moniker as our Bond popped on his cycle clips and rode his moped to work as the first ever county archaeologist for Worcestershire.

James was just 24 years old when he was taken on to create an archaeology service at Worcestershire County Council. He was a geography graduate, yet to pass his driving test and living in a caravan.

Many young men would have had the living daylights scared out of them in their first job but 50 years on, the service is now celebrating its half century milestone and all those who have helped create the modern thriving department which now exists.

The county’s own 001 of the department could never have known how the service would develop and offer a licence to thrill for half a century.

Since 1969 more than 85,000 records of archaeological sites, historic buildings and landscapes have been created.

These are used by people who need to, or want to, understand the landscape of Worcestershire or are just interested in where they live.

The archaeologists have been part of Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service since 2012 and continue to undertake a range of work to protect, manage, record, interpret and promote the history and historic environment of Worcestershire.

Back in the 1960s, a time of rapid change, there were fears for archaeological sites as town expanded and excavations increased. Councils began hiring county archaeologists, to carry out vital work.

“Most of the first generation of county archaeologists appointed through the 1960s and 1970s were based in planning departments,” James said.

“Worcestershire was unusual in attaching the post to a museum which formed part of the county’s Education Department. It had real advantages in allowing a much more positive connection with the general public.

“This was an exciting time when every exploration produced new discoveries. I made it my priority to begin collecting and collating information on archaeological sites and historic buildings on a card index and plotting them on paper map.

“I loved the variety of the Worcestershire landscape, and retain particular fondness for places which sparked off interests which have engaged me throughout my subsequent career.”

Victoria Bryant, manager of the Archive and Archaeology service said; “James is a vital piece of our story, setting up the foundations for the modern service we see today.

“As we celebrate our work and all we have achieved in the past 50 years, our thanks go to all those who have led and worked for the service over five decades.”

Visit to cast a GoldenEye over James’s memories.


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