About this site

Screen shot of the Scheme databaseThe site that you are browsing was designed and built by the Scheme's ICT Adviser, Daniel Pett, over a period of 12 months. It builds on the foundations laid by the team at Oxford ArchDigital (Tyler Bell, Vuk Trufkovic, Andrew Larcombe, Chad Thatcher, Kos Vankov, Jocke Selin) who unfortunately went into liquidation in 2006. Their original software was commissioned and implemented after a tendering exercise in 2003. By 2007, the platform was beginning to age the Scheme needed to move on and become more user friendly. It is now, hopefully a tool for "crowd-sourcing" archaeological data from the public of England and Wales.

The new site is built entirely on open source software (as was the predecessor) and uses the PHP language and specifically the Zend Framework and the jQuery javascript framework. It has an entirely bespoke content management system and draws inspiration from various open source projects and people as listed below. In building this site, I have had to learn a huge amount of technical information - Linux admin, MySQL optimisation, how to programme in an OOP php manner and javascript development. 

The total cost of programming this site has been minimal, my salary costs for the year (whilst doing other things as well) and a grant of £10,000 from the British Museum research board. This paid for 2 new servers and the expertise of Andrew Larcombe to install and configure them. We have received no extra funding from the MLA to develop our ICT. Our annual running cost for the servers is for co-location, bandwidth and secure backup of 2 servers based at Dedipower in Reading, Therefore, in terms of cost; this site is remarkably cheap and it employs a variety of APIs from around the web to enhance the content and these include:

  • Flickr - Yahoo!
  • Placemaker - Yahoo!
  • Amazon web services for enhancing publication data
  • Akismet - spam comment filter
  • Twitter 
  • Wordpress XML-RPC interface
  • Google maps
  • Google analytics
  • Gravatar (user avatars)
  • Delicious (bookmarking)
  • Open Calais (text extraction)
  • The British Museum's Collections Online Opensearch module
  • ReCaptcha
  • They Work for You (Parliamentary data)
  • The Guardian's open platform
  • dbPedia sparql interface

There were two external Museum apis, that I really wanted to integrate with, but unfortunately, I could find no data in their system that I could use (Brooklyn Museum and the V&A).

Building this site, has been a journey of discovery, and I am definitely "standing on the shoulders of giants." Many people in the web (mainly Heritage & Museums ) world have inspired this site, some of these are:

  • Andrew Larcombe
  • Tyler Bell
  • Tom Elliot
  • Sean Gillies
  • Tom Goskar, Wessex Archaeology
  • The Omeka project
  • Pádraic Brady - his writing has proved invaluable for learning about the framework
  • Chris Heilmann (great and easy to follow code demos)
  • Jim O'Donnell
  • Mia Ridge

A wide variety of people have contributed to the content of this site, and they have been attributed where applicable on the site. You can find statistical breakdowns of their input to this resource under the statistics page of the database.

The finders of the objects that we record, have had their details obscured to meet the Data Protection Act requirements, but without them, this site would be skeletal. The Scheme is nothing without the generosity of those who offer their finds for recording.