Category: ConsultancyBuildingsGeophysicsExcavationTeam Insights
At the beginning of 2019, leading archaeology and built heritage consultant Karl Taylor joined NAA and has been establishing a second company office in Manchester.
During his career to date, Karl has worked for geotechnical, archaeological and consultancy companies, and so has an extensive understanding of the role of archaeology in the planning process. Over the last 20 years, Karl has amassed a vibrant portfolio of successful and varied schemes – from built heritage assignments that have enabled the rejuvenation of historic buildings, to archaeological fieldwork projects required as part of planning permission conditions for residential and commercial developments. Since starting at NAA, Karl has enhanced NAA’s ability and reach to provide our broad range of archaeological and heritage services to clients in north-west England, and he has already delivered a clutch of effective schemes.
Here, we find out more about Karl – his archaeological passions and specialisms, and why the north-west is a great area for NAA to open a new office.
What first enticed you into the world of archaeology?
I discovered I had a liking for geology when I was doing A-levels, and I went to Durham University to study for my degree in that subject. I happened to pick archaeology as a subsidiary topic, and after my first year, I found that I enjoyed archaeology and the lectures of Peter Rowley-Conwy so much that I chose to follow that path, went to Bradford to finish my degree and the rest, as they say, is history. I knew I’d made the right decision when, in the dead of an Anatolian night, I witnessed a Roman mosaic floor in the ancient city of Zeugma being rescued from the slowly rising waters of a newly built reservoir on the Euphrates River — I’ll never forget it.
How has archaeology changed over the years – what innovations do you think have really helped propel commercial archaeology?
Since I first entered the profession in 1998, the use of digital technology in archaeology has developed tremendously and become both more cost-effective and much more accessible. It really has revolutionised our work in so many ways, from the digital methods of recording such as using UAVs with digital photogrammetry, laser scanning and GPS to record sites and buildings, to the increasing development of archaeological prospecting techniques. One of my first jobs was to print out geophysical survey plots together with labels and arrows, Pritt stick them onto a sheet of A3 and photocopy them to create figures for reports. It used to take hours, something that takes no time at all now. Things are much more professional and slick these days.
What is your area of specialism in archaeology?
My first proper job after university was working for a geophysical survey contractor in the midlands, where I learned to walk along in perfect time to the constant beep, beep, beep from a magnetometer (I still whistle this from time-to-time when walking across fields). I developed a specialism for geophysics in the years I worked there but I also had an interest in buildings and architectural history, which I was fortunate enough to develop while I worked for an archaeological unit in the north-west. I carried out many building surveys across and beyond the region and eventually became a project manager, a role which now occupies most of my time.
What is your favourite type of historic building?
Living in the north-west, not far from Manchester, I think it’s impossible not to be impressed by our industrial built heritage. The mill buildings that survive are not just remarkable technical achievements but are monuments to the countless men, women and children who helped to create our modern way of life. I am also a sucker for a Gothic cathedral and a cruck barn.
NAA has a strong track record in north-east England, and as a company that is client focused, is keen to offer our clients in the north-west cost-effective, locally based heritage and archaeology services.
Why the north-west?
I have worked in the north-west for many years and have a good knowledge of the area and its potential and believe that there is great opportunity for NAA to be involved in some inspiring and interesting projects. Manchester is a vibrant and exciting city with many development opportunities, and is close to all the major conurbations and transport networks, and is an ideal base from which to work all over the north-west.
What type of work have you done to date from the NAA north-west office?
Over the last six months we have worked all over the north-west, from Cheshire and Merseyside to Cumbria, and even into West Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales. We have carried out building surveys including two major mills, barns, a designed landscape and a former biscuit factory. We have also carried out a couple of trial trench evaluations, a walkover survey and a strip, map and record excavation. Our heritage consultancy department has been kept busy with archaeological contributions to Environmental Impact Assessments. We have also been busy visiting established and prospective clients in the north-west to showcase NAA’s capabilities and strong offer.
What is your typical day like?
Since I joined NAA, I have been helping to develop our business in the north-west, which has involved building up a client base, tendering for work, managing projects, carrying out building surveys and writing reports. One of the things I love about my job is the variety and a typical day can literally involve doing one, more or all of these!
What do you think sets NAA apart from other archaeological units?
For its size, NAA has very wide-ranging capabilities, including in-house geophysical survey, specialist photogrammetry services and a range of highly marketable post-excavation services. NAA has a strong track record in north-east England, and as a company that is client focused, is keen to offer our clients in the north-west cost-effective, locally based heritage and archaeology services.