Dr Stewart Bryant (Chair ALGAO E)
Jenny Glazebrook (Managing Editor East Anglian Archaeology)
Andy Hutcheson (Archaeology Manager NAU Archaeology)
This paper will present the results of a series of regional seminars and professional workshops which have been organised during the past few years by the East of England branch of the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO E) and the Editorial Board of East Anglian Archaeology
A common issue arising from the seminars and workshops is the need for better and more detailed standards for post-excavation assessment. MAP 2 and the more recent MORPHE guidance from English Heritage provide a sound structure within which post-excavation assessment forms the key point in the post-excavation process. Current IFA guidance is helpful to some extent, as are the Field Archaeology Standards published by ALGAO E in 2003. However, the experience from the East of England is that the standard and content of assessments arising from excavation undertaken as part of the planning process is highly variable, and this is a significant and problematic issue for both contractors and curators. The view expressed by those attending the seminars and workshops is that more detailed guidance is required in order to provide a ‘level playing field’ for contractors and also to make the process of monitoring easier and less resource intensive for curators. It is very difficult for curators to effectively monitor post-excavation assessment across the wide range of specialist subjects when standard and content is so variable and there is no appropriate guidance to refer to.
With PPG 16 soon to be replaced by a new Planning Policy Statement, Planning circular and good practice guidance, there is an opportunity to enhance the provision for post-excavation and publication via the planning process — something that the whole sector recognises as an issue. There is likely in future to be even stronger emphasis on assessment as the key factor that determines policy and allocation of resources for analysis, publication and archiving. It is the view from the East of England that better and more detailed guidance on post-excavation assessment is required, and we would open the debate nationally and obtain the views of the wider sector, especially the policy-makers at IFA and English Heritage.