2. Meeting kinship
Sweffling: a meeting place of Kemps and Smyths
Remains of the past are all around us: we connect with recent times through the passage of our own lives and those of our parents and grandparents.  The past is constantly used as a reference point by politicians and others; and the past is a fascinating other world that many wish to explore. Yet, we also live at a time when the past seems to be under threat from the headlong rush towards a modern future. We now live in a new millennium whose watch words are modernisation and change. Those who study the past need to restate its importance for future generations.
Enthusiasm for the past is unabated, with direct involvement of ordinary people in history or archaeology, and through researching family or local history Television programmes like 'Time Team', 'Meet the Ancestors', 'Journeys to the Bottom of the Sea' or 'Talking Landscapes' regularly attract audiences of more than 3 million. The highly publicised programme 'Son of God' attracted over 6 million for its first episode. A poll carried out last year revealed that 98% of people thought that heritage was important for teaching children about the past, while 85% of people thought that heritage played a valuable role in the life of the country. Politicians would sell their souls for support like that!
As the great archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler noted in 1954, ‘the archaeological excavator is not digging up things, he is digging up people’. Modern archaeologists seek to understand human behaviour: how it varies from place to place and how it changes over time. If we rephrase archaeology as meetings with  people and places in the past, we can make a very important reference to its contribution to the present.
The political agenda of the twenty-first century has come to be articulated through the idea of quality of life, encompassing such matters as social inclusion, environmental protection and sustainable development; all fundamentally matters of people and place in the present and future. In many ways the history of humanity  has been based on the common drive of families that hope to live in a just and stable society which ensures peaceful reproduction and the social security of all persons, the employed, the unemployed and minorities.   Our place in the past has therefore a great deal of relevance for today’s society. It is a mediator between present and future. The political drive to modernise is always taken with one eye looking backwards. Just as the future of archaeology lies with the public, so the future of the public partly lies with the past.
Family histories offer more than purely a rich source of historical information, providing insight into life as it was once lived and breathed. They have the power to deepen our experience of being alive. Compared to days of old, we live now quite an isolated existence, distanced from each other physically by the erosion of village living as well as emotionally by a culture that celebrates individuality above community, youth above aging and material wealth above spiritual growth. Once upon a time telling stories about ancestors played such a profound role in peoples' lives, connecting them to each other and the past. They educated people with lessons learned by those before them and they nurtured an appreciation of family with stories of ancestors. They nourished individuals with a strong sense of belonging and identity and they ensured that elders, as the keepers of history, were respected as knowledgeable and wise leaders of the community. To reclaim the custom of telling about ancestors among families offers individuals a chance to recapture all this.
Learning and discussing the place of modern families in the wider scheme of world history is valuable for people to understand present world events and for them to be able to interact across diverse cultural groups. It was at the beginning of the 1990s when the teaching of history of foster nationalism and suspicion of other nations began to be replaced by a curriculum that encompasses the whole of humanity.  The focus shifted towards cross- cultural objectives such  the acquisition of tools for analysing past and present human societies-and not on the creation of collective identities.  The aim is to make being part of a global multicultural world to be enjoyable and stimulating.