University of Birmingham to close award-winning archaeology institute
The University of Birmingham has announced plans to axe its award-winning Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity (IAA), with the loss of 19 jobs.
The internationally renowned department has played a leading role in recent discoveries at Stonehenge, including the groundbreaking find of ancient ritual pits which suggest that the Stonehenge site was used as a place for sun worship before the stones were erected.
UCU said the institute's closure would have a devastating impact on the UK's archaeology provision.
The union said it was angry that staff affected by the closure had not been given any proper explanation of why the institute was being axed, despite raising the issue with management on several occasions.
In 2007 the institute was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its use of technology to create detailed maps of the former Roman town of Wroxeter.
Staff from the institute also helped excavate the Staffordshire Gold Hoard, the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, ensuring that the ancient gold was extracted safely from the ground where it was discovered.
Academics from the institute have helped carry out excavations outside Shakespeare's final home as part of the Dig for Shakespeare project, which is looking to increase understanding of how the Bard spent his last years.
UCU regional official, Martin Machon, said: 'The University of Birmingham's Institute for Archaeology and Antiquity is internationally renowned for its work and has played a leading role in recent Stonehenge discoveries and other high-profile projects. Closing this award-winning department and sacking staff will seriously damage the UK's proud reputation as a leading light in archaeology.
'The university has failed to explain properly to staff why the institute, given its fantastic track record, is facing the axe.'