Archaeological Archive

All records and materials recovered during an archaeological project and identified for long-term preservation, including artefacts, ecofacts and other environmental remains, waste products, scientific samples and also written and visual documentation in paper, film and digital form (Perrin et al 2014, 20).

Archaeological Archive Manager

The person responsible for ensuring an Archaeological Archive is fully compiled and transferred to the archive Repository (Perrin et al. 2014, 43).

Archaeological Project

Any programme of work that involves the collection and/or production of information about an archaeological site, assemblage or object in any environment, including in the field, under water, at a desk or in a laboratory. Examples of an archaeological project include: intrusive projects such as excavation, field evaluation, watching brief, surface recovery and the destructive analysis of objects; non-intrusive projects such as landscape or building survey, aerial survey, remote sensing, off-site research such as desk-based assessment and the recording of objects or object assemblages (Perrin et al 2014, 20).

One product of an archaeological project will be an archaeological archive.


Collected material

Materials recovered during the data gathering phase of a project and collected for appraisal and/or analysis.

Collecting Institution

Receives an Archaeological Archive from the Depositor for long-term curatorial care.

Collections Curator

The individual that curates Archaeological Archives on behalf of the Collecting Institution, who should therefore be involved in the development of the Selection Strategy.

Data Management Plan

A data management plan, or DMP, is a document which describes how you are planning to manage the data gathered through the delivery of a project, and what will happen to that data (eg. plans for sharing and preservation) once the project is complete.

De-Selected Material

The parts of the working project archive not selected for inclusion in the archaeological archive.

Digital Data

All documents and records in digital form, including: correspondence, contracts, specifications, notes, records, pro-forma, indexes, catalogues, reports, maps, plans, section drawings, elevations, site photographs, object images, CAD files, databases, digital aerial photograph interpretations, geophysical and other survey data, GIS files, audio records, images, satellite imagery, spreadsheets, text files, analytical results and 3-D data.


The process of dealing with De-selected Material, including incorporation into handling boxes, donation to reference collections, or destruction. All Stakeholders should be included in determining methods of dispersal.


All documents and records in paper or film form, including: correspondence, contracts, specifications, notes, records, pro-forma, indexes, catalogues, reports, maps, plans, section drawings, elevations, site photographs, object images and x-rays.

Evidential value

Evidential value derives from the potential of a place to yield evidence about past human activity.

Physical remains of past human activity are the primary source of evidence about the substance and evolution of places, and of the people and cultures that made them. These remains are part of a record of the past that begins with traces of early humans and continues to be created and destroyed. Their evidential value is proportionate to their potential to contribute to people’s understanding of the past.

In the absence of written records, the material record, particularly archaeological deposits, provides the only source of evidence about the distant past. Age is therefore a strong indicator of relative evidential value, but is not paramount, since the material record is the primary source of evidence about poorly documented aspects of any period. Geology, landforms, species and habitats similarly have value as sources of information about the evolution of the planet and life upon it.

Evidential value derives from the physical remains or genetic lines that have been inherited from the past. The ability to understand and interpret the evidence tends to be diminished in proportion to the extent of its removal or replacement.

(Historic England 2008, sections 35–38)


All materials recovered during an Archaeological Project including:

  • Artefacts, such as pottery, tile, worked stone, glass, metalwork, worked bone, leather and textile;
  • Biological remains, such as animal bone and botanical material;
  • Waste products, such as industrial residue, hammerscale and off-cuts;
  • Material extracted during analysis, such as thin-sections, microfossil slides, dendrochronological specimens.
Project Lead

The individual(s) who initiates and/or monitors the Archaeological Project, to ensure it is successfully completed, often in a project assurance capacity on behalf of a planning or funding organisation e.g. Local Authority Archaeologist, Planning Archaeologist, National Heritage Body, Research Institution, Community Group.

Project Manager

The individual responsible for the successful completion of an Archaeological Project, including management of the Working Project Archive and implementation of the Selection Strategy.


A quantity of material type or a deposit collected for analysis.


The process of applying a selection strategy to a working project archive to determine which archive components, including documents, digital files and material objects, should be included in the archaeological archive. The aim of selection is to ensure that the archaeological archive contains everything required to establish the significance of the project and support future research, outreach, engagement, display and learning activities.

Selection Policy

A non-project-specific, generic methodology for selection. As such, a selection policy may inform decisions about deselected materials but should not be used to determine a project-specific selection strategy.

Selection Strategy

The methodology detailing the project-specific selection process, agreed by all stakeholders, that will be applied to the working project archive in order to create the archaeological archive.

The data management plan is a separate document to the selection strategy but should be developed in conjunction with it. Both documents should be included in pre-project documentation (eg project design and/or WSI).


An individual who is competent in, and specialises in, collecting, recording, analysing, interpreting and/or reporting on specific materials, objects or scientific data. A Specialist will have developed expertise through the extensive study in their particular field, working to accepted standards of practice and ethics, and reporting in reputable peer reviewed sources. They should also be accredited in line with any recognition schemes in place for their field of expertise.


The individuals or institutions with a stake in the formulation and implementation of the Selection Strategy. For example; the contracting unit or individual/group (e.g. universities and community groups) undertaking the project, the Collecting Institution accepting the Archaeological Archive, representatives of the developers or landowners, the Project Executive and Specialists working on the project.

Uncollected Material

Material not collected during the data-gathering phase of an Archaeological Project e.g. as a result of Selection in the field.

Working Project Archive

The records and materials gathered during an archaeological project and retained for analysis prior to selection for the archaeological archive.