British museums are running out of storage space for historical artifacts. The reason is numerous finds during construction work, as the BBC reported. A span of several centuries is affected: from Roman sherds to pottery from the Bronze Age.
A report by Historic England and the Arts Council England department concludes that unless new space is made, the amount of material that has been accidentally discovered will soon become unsustainable.
"The clock is ticking -- we've got four or five years before we really start to have massive problems," said Barney Sloane of Historic England. "Archaeological archives have a lot of potential. It would be a shame if we couldn't find a way to protect them for the future."
Many pieces were found by archaeologists who, on behalf of construction companies, examine and approve the plots of land before construction work begins. In this way, a large Roman mosaic was discovered in London, for example, or a Roman trading post in central England.
Historians fear loss of history
"There's just no space," said researcher Tom Booth. In addition, museums lack archaeological curators due to a lack of funding. According to the Society of Museum Archaeologists, a quarter of the excavations carried out by so-called archaeological contractors in England never find their way into a museum.
It is feared that in the future, municipalities will no longer be able to force companies to dig up archaeological sites when space is tight. Then much history would be lost forever, Historic England warned.
The hope lies in a government historical archive that could secure the question of preservation for decades to come. But nothing is decided. Museums and institutes are increasingly using the services of private companies. For example, Deepstore offers a lot of space in an underground disused salt mine.