Post Excavation and Project Management: The Challenges Facing The Archaeological Consultant

Royston Clark (EDP)

This paper will examine issues relating to post-excavation project management from the perspective of an archaeologist who works for a multi-disciplinary environmental consultancy (EDP).

Part of my job is to guide developer clients through the complex process of archaeological fieldwork and analysis. This begins with undertaking desk-top assessment, is then followed, where necessary, by implementing field evaluation (geophysical survey, trial trenching etc ). On sites where archaeological deposits are found, appropriate mitigation may include archaeological excavations. Inevitably, once the fieldwork has been completed, a programme of post excavation will begin. As developers’ minds are focused on gaining planning consent, and once obtained, starting their construction work, it is relatively easy to engage developers in the concepts of evaluation and more detailed excavation: they see this work as critical to the success of their projects.

It is, however, more challenging to engage developers with regard to post-excavation. By this stage of the process, archaeology does not appear as part of their ‘critical path’ to successful development. Although most developers recognise their obligations to fund post-excavation, it is often seen in over-simplified terms as ‘something’ done in order to get a site published, and for them to get their archaeological planning condition discharged. Most developers do not understand post-excavation, and I believe that they can rightly say that there is little in planning policy or other guidance to provide them with a clear understanding of the processes involved.

My paper will examine a range of post-excavation issues including those relating to developers’ perceptions. It will argue for the need for greater clarity in terms of policy and other guidance. With the prospect of PPG16 being revamped into a new PPS, there is an excellent opportunity to provide greater guidance in terms of the required standards for post-excavation. If the new guidance is then translated into planning policy, it would help developers to recognise the importance of post-excavation work. Archaeologists can also help themselves by providing non-technical reports which show how those post holes and pot sherds found on site eventually became the Iron Age roundhouse that inhabited the developer’s building plot 2500 years ago.

The paper will also examine issues relating to the difficulties of assessing post excavation capabilities in a competitive tender environment. When assessing tenders it is much easier to evaluate how contractors resource the excavation stage of work, but much more difficult to understand how post-excavation is managed.  Although this paper won’t provide new answers to the questions and issues mentioned above, it is hoped that it will stimulate debate during the conference session!

Post Excavation and Project Management: The Challenges Facing The Archaeological Consultant (PDF file)

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