What is an Archaeological Excavation?
Often known as Mitigation, it is required where significant remains, likely to be impacted by development, are known or evidentially indicated to be present within the site.
The decision regarding Mitigation is based upon the evidence revealed by the initial evaluation, generally by trial trenching, and is determined by the relevant Local Planning Authority or County Archaeology Service.
What does it involve?
Excavation often follows trial-trenching and may take one of two forms, these being either (1) Strip, Map and Record/ Sample or (2) Full Excavation. The physical site dimensions are agreed with the Local Planning Authority or County Archaeology Service.
Strip Map and Record/ Sample involves archaeologically controlled machine excavation down to the first significant archaeological horizon, which is then recorded prior to detailed investigation of a specified sample of features such as ditches, pits or structures. Features such as burials will generally be fully excavated. It is worth noting that an archaeological horizon is defined as the depth at which demonstrable evidence of prior human activity has been discerned.
Full Excavation is likely to be required where the archaeological evidence is thought to be of such significance that only a programme of detailed investigation and recording of buried deposits and features, known as contexts, will preserve by record, or in exceptional cases in-situ, against any loss of archaeological information due to development.
In this way, a detailed record of the site, its surroundings and the daily lives of its occupants will emerge and it is sufficiently detailed and supported by scientific and artefactual evidence to aid future scholarly research.
What Happens Next?
An appropriately detailed report, summarising the results of the excavation, will be produced and provided to the client and Archaeological Officer in order to discharge the relevant archaeological planning condition.