HEADLAND 20

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PROVIDING ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND CULTURAL HERITAGE EXPERTISE TO THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

It was 20 years ago this month that the four original Headlanders, armed with only a large tin of paint and the determination to ‘do archaeology’ differently, set up office in a converted lemonade factory off Albion Road, in Edinburgh, in the shadow of Hibernian’s Easter Road football stadium. All four founders, in pay-roll number order – Stephen Carter, Tim Holden, Chris Lowe and Magnar Dalland – are still working in the company and to mark this milestone we’d like to share some of the excitement, some of the achievements and some of what we’ve learned along the way in growing the business to what it is today. Over the past 20 years the company has grown from being a ‘four-man-band’ based in Edinburgh to becoming one of the largest heritage practices in the UK, with real and fully-resourced offices in Edinburgh, Leeds, Luton and Hereford. How did we get from a staff of four and a turnover of £200,000 in 1996, to £1m in 2004/05 and to a turnover of some £13m at the height of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economy in 2007/08? What did we do during the recession and how did we survive it? Since 1996 we have worked on some of the largest archaeological projects undertaken in the UK and Ireland; high-profile sites, such as the Scottish Parliament site; providing archaeological support in advance of major roads infrastructure projects in Ireland, north and south of the border; principal contractor for the M74 Completion Project and other major infrastructure projects such as Forth Replacement Crossing, Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, Edinburgh Trams, Clyde Wind Farm, Hereford Cathedral, Staffordshire Alliance on the West Coast Mainline and many many more. As if all this wasn’t enough, we’ve also been working for consultants on some of the largest housing developments in the south of England. Not to forget that we’ve also run research and training projects, investigated the stomach contents of more bog bodies (and one Iceman) than you’d want to shake a stick at, produced some of the major landmark publications of the past two decades and won awards, both for our business acumen and our archaeological expertise.

We’ve also had a major hand in defining the national occupational standards for our profession, as well as designing new, more efficient ways of doing things that keep us ahead of the game. We’ve discovered some of the earliest settlements in Britain, we’ve worked our way through the metaphorical ‘waste-paper-basket’ of an early medieval educational establishment and the literal dustbin of a 19th century Glasgow tenement, as well as all periods in between and almost every county or region of the UK and Ireland. Over the course of the next 12 months, we’ll be posting 20 stories to illustrate various aspects of Headland’s first 20 years. Some of the posts will focus on specific projects but we’ll also be looking at how the sector has changed over the past 20 years and how Headland has responded to these changes; we’ll also look at how we met the challenges of recession and the economics of ‘boom-and-bust’ and how we survived the various recessions along the way, and came out leaner and keener;  and, with over 800 current or former UK ‘Headlanders’ out there – and it is those people who have helped to make all of this happen – we’ll also be looking at how Headland has made a difference to our profession.

So, if you're intrigued to know how we got to where we are today, how we learned our ABC (Archaeology, Business, Careers) and if you want to see some of our key discoveries (maybe you even worked on some of the projects?), check them out, sit back and relax. Enjoy the trip and get ready for the next 20 years –because they’re going to be even better...

HEADLAND 20: HIGHLIGHTS

HIGHLIGHT #10

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HIGHLIGHT #11

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HIGHLIGHT #12

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HIGHLIGHT #19

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HIGHLIGHT #20

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