Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

Evaluations and test-pitting

It is not uncommon in modern Britain for commercial developers and individuals to be confronted with permission to build only on condition that they have an archaeological investigation in advance of their work. In the first instance this generally takes the form of a field evaluation.

Depending on the size of the site, evaluations can range from a single small test-pit to a series of 20m x 2m trenches.

The purpose of field evaluation is to gain information about the archaeological resource within a given area or site (including its presence or absence, character, extent, date, integrity, state of preservation and quality), in order to make an assessment of its merit in the appropriate context, leading to one or more of the following:

  • The formulation of a strategy to ensure the recording, preservation or management of the resource
  • The formulation of a strategy to mitigate a threat to the archaeological resource
  • The formulation of a proposal for further archaeological investigation within a programme of research

A field evaluation may arise:

  • In response to a proposed development which threatens the archaeological resource
  • As part of the planning process (within the framework of appropriate national planning policy guidance notes and/or development plan policy)
  • As part of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
  • Outside the planning process (e.g. ecclesiastical development, coastal erosion, agriculture, forestry and countryside management, works by public utilities and statutory undertakers)
  • Within a programme of research not generated by a specific threat to the archaeological resource
  • In connection with the preparation of management plans by private, local or national and international bodies

An archaeological field evaluation may therefore be instigated or commissioned by a number of different individuals or organisations, including local planning authorities, national advisory bodies, government agencies, private landowners, developers or their agents, archaeological researchers, etc.

For more information contact Alison Hicks

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