What is an Archaeological Excavation?
This is a very FAQ! Often known as Mitigation, it is likely to be required where significant remains likely to be impacted by development are known or evidentially indicated to be present within the site.
These decisions to so require as a further Condition are made based upon the evidence revealed by the initial evaluation generally by trial trenching and are solely determined by the relevant local planning authority or county archaeology service.
What does it involve?
Excavation often follows trial-trenching and/or geophysical survey and may take one of two forms, these being either (1) Strip Map and Record or (2) Full Excavation, the physical site dimensions of which having also been determined by the local planning authority or county archaeology service.
Strip Map and Record involves archaeologically controlled machine excavation down to the 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 specifically likely to be required where the archaeological evidence is thought to be of such significance that only a programme of detailed, comprehensive 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 that is sufficiently robust, detailed, supported by scientific & artefactual evidence to support future scholarly research.
What Happens Next?
We will produce an appropriately detailed report summarising the results of the excavation which will then be provided to the client and Archaeological Officer to discharge the relevant archaeological planning condition.
In some cases, following the Excavation phase, the Archaeological Officer may require a further programme of work such as a watching brief.