Who is this Toolkit for?

The guidelines in this Toolkit are intended for use by anyone engaged in organising, managing or monitoring the records created during initial processing of archaeological materials (finds, as defined below) recovered during an archaeological project. Those who may find this Toolkit useful include

  • finds processing personnel
  • finds managers
  • specialists in specific types of materials or objects
  • project managers
  • anybody monitoring archaeological practice or project outcomes

The Toolkit can be used with any type of project that results in the collection of archaeological materials/finds, including

  • excavation (and equivalents such as evaluation)
  • watching brief
  • surface collection (eg fieldwalking)

and however the project is funded or organised, be it

  • development-related
  • academic/research
  • community-led scheme (eg local study group projects)
An archaeologist writes on clear plastic finds bags at a desk.
Recording key site information during finds packaging (image: Archaeological Projects Team, Historic England)

The Toolkit covers the recording of finds during initial processing following recovery, prior to the appraisal or assessment of category assemblages in advance of specialised analysis.

Recording for appraisal (assessment) is described in the CIfA Toolkit for Specialist Reporting.

Specialist analysis will be informed by more detailed, specific standards or manuals – see References and resources.

Additional CIfA toolkits for the study of specific types of materials or objects will combine with the recording and reporting toolkits to provide a comprehensive resource for the study of archaeological materials.

Finds processing and recording should always be carried out in accordance with current standards and guidance, as well as the specific requirements of the repository for the project archive. This Toolkit is for use where those requirements do not exist and may also inform the development of repository requirements, practice manuals and other standards for finds work.

What is included in the Toolkit?

This Toolkit is concerned exclusively with the initial recording of finds assemblages, offering a consistent approach that can be used throughout finds processing, prior to post-fieldwork appraisal.

The Toolkit includes

On-site recovery of finds during fieldwork, methods of processing, selection strategies, appraisal and report writing are all covered elsewhere (see References and resources; eg First Aid for Finds; CIfA Selection Toolkit for Archaeological Archives; CIfA Toolkit for Specialist Reporting) and are not included here.