Desk-based assessments definition:

The definition of a desk-based assessment is a programme of assessment of the known or potential archaeological resource within a specified area or site on land, inter-tidal zone or underwater. It consists of a collation of existing written, graphic, photographic and electronic information in order to identify the likely character, extent and worth of the known or potential archaeological resource in a local, regional, national or international context as appropriate.

The purpose of a desk-based assessment is:

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

The formation of a strategy to ensure the recording preservation or management of the resource

The formulation of a strategy for further investigations, whether or not intrusive, where the character and value of the resource is not sufficiently defined to permit mitigation strategy or other response to be devised

The formulation of a proposal for further archaeological investigation within a programme of research

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Desk-based assessment 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 Assessment (EA)

Outside the planning process (eg 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, national or international bodies

Desk-based assessment 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.

Text ©Institute for Archaeologists
JMHS carries out desk-based assessments for developments of all types and sizes: from small building programmes through to major pipelines, roads and other regional scale projects.