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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Appointment of the new Royal Commission Secretary: Christopher Catling, MA, FSA

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales is pleased to announce that its new Secretary (Chief Executive) will be Christopher Catling, MA, FSA.

Chris is well-known as a journalist, author, and consultant on the historic environment. He is the editor of the Society of Antiquaries’ highly regarded online newsletter Salon and a regular contributor to Current Archaeology and Country Life. He is the Director of the Marc Fitch Fund, managing investments of £7m and making grants of £200,000 annually to support academic research and publishing in the fields of history, archaeology and art history.

He sits on a number of boards and advisory bodies, including Cotswold Archaeology (of which he is Vice Chairman), the British Archaeological Awards and the Gloucester Diocesan Advisory Committee. He helped set up the All Party Parliamentary Archaeology Group in 2000 to raise the profile of archaeology in both Houses of Parliament, and in 2002 he set up Heritage Link (now the Heritage Alliance), establishing its constitution, membership, funding base and Heritage Update newsletter.

Chris is the author of a number of best-selling travel guides, including the Eyewitness Guides to Venice and the Veneto and to Florence and Tuscany, as well as A Practical Handbook of Archaeology: a beginner's guide to unearthing the past. As a consultant he has researched and written numerous conservation management plans for bodies such as English Heritage and The National Trust and other organisations, including those for Dover Castle, Leeds Castle and Knole, which have supported recent successful bids for funding from the HLF and other bodies.

The Royal Commission’s Chairman, Dr. Eurwyn Wiliam, said ‘I am delighted to welcome Chris as our new Secretary. He has an excellent track record of demonstrating the social and economic value of our heritage and in persuading others that they should understand and care for our past more effectively. In welcoming Chris I also wish to pay tribute to the sterling work of Mrs Hilary Malaws who so readily agreed to postpone her retirement to stand in as Acting Secretary for the past year.’

After his recent visit to the Commission, Chris said

“It is a great honour to be entrusted with this role and I am fortunate to be joining such a competent and versatile team. The Commission's recent research into the Welsh slate industry, nonconformist chapels, the archaeology of the Welsh uplands and maritime heritage are examples of important projects that create the knowledge base to enable crucial decisions to be taken about the future of our past. The fruits of that research are then made available to the people of Wales through books, exhibitions and lectures, the Coflein online database and through the outstanding collections that make up the National Monuments Record for Wales in Aberystwyth.”

“We know that there are many people in Wales who are as passionate about heritage as we are, and we plan to find ways to involve more people in our work. The Commission has already run a very successful project researching medieval houses in Snowdonia working with volunteers. We hope to build on this to develop effective ‘citizen science’ and volunteering systems with some of the 700 or so heritage groups that exist in Wales. That is the challenge for the future that I look forward to: ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to take part in the rewarding and enjoyable work of exploring, recording and understanding the distinctive heritage of Wales."

Christopher Catling will take up his post on 2 March 2015.

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