Two generations ago, Sir Mortimer Wheeler made himself the master of public relations in archaeology. He found some of the funds for digging Maiden Castle from opening the site to the visitors, who were able to buy souvenirs for a few pennies. After a period when the public have seemed a nuisance on-site, the fashion has come back — with added urgency in Britain where the pipeline of funding from public sources no longer flows so easily and where responding to some apparent public demand is becoming a new essential.
Flag Fen, in the wetland of eastern England, is being seen as a model of the new approach. It is conspicuous in the pages of Visitors welcome, the new English Heritage guide for excavators, which is reviewed warmly from across the Atlantic elsewhere in this issue. Here the Wheeler of the Fens explains what he is doing there and way.