Archaeological excavation definition

The definition of archaeological excavation is a programme of controlled intrusive fieldwork with defined research objectives which examines, records and interprets archaeological structures and as appropriate, retrieves artefacts, ecofacts and other remains within a specified area or site on land, inter-tidal zone or underwater. The records made and objects gathered during fieldwork are studied and the results of that study published in detail appropriate to the project design.

The purpose of excavation is:

Area Excavation

The purpose of excavationas as defined by the Institute for Archaeologists is to gain examine the archaeological resource within a given area or site within a framework of defined research objectives, to seek a better understanding of and compile a lasting record of that resource, to analyse and interpret the results, and disseminate them

Urban Excavation


The Institute for Archaeologists note an excavation 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 (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, national or international bodies

Excavation 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.

neolithic Timber Circle
JMHS carries out excavation prior to development for a wide range of projects. This has included cemetery extensions, local residential and industrial schemes up to and including major regional scale projects.