Blanche Parry

A GUIDE FOR PRACTICAL ARCHAEOLOGY

If you are interested in Archaeology and would like to undertake some practical work this is a suggestion on how to produce a meaningful report. It does not involve excavation but it does involve fieldwork. Therefore, you should first check that you have permission to walk the area of your site if it is on private land.

Report on ?

Choose a site near where you live as you will visit it several times.

Check too that it is a site mentioned in your county Historic Environment Record (HER) or Sites and Monuments Record (SMR).

The Report needs to be business-like and there will be two halves to your finished Report, that is the Desktop Study section and the Fieldwork section.

Desktop Study

  • This is compiled from documentary sources which can be collected as photocopies, print-outs, guidebooks, your own notes from relevant books, aerial photographs.......
  • In other words, absolutely every scrap of documentary evidence that can be found.
  • Of course the amount available will be different for different sites but compilation presents few problems. Remember to record your sources immediately.
  • All information should be credited / acknowledged as to source.
  • You should include:
  1. The print-out from the Historic Environment Record (HER), which may still be called by the older title of Sites and Monuments Record (SMR). These print-outs can be obtained in person from your county HER/SMR or many HERs/SMRs can be contacted through the web, letter or telephone. Every county has an HER/SMR, some are attached to Council Leisure Departments, others to Planning Departments:

    • Contact your Council switchboard and ask for the HER/SMR Officer.
    • You will find that every site has a HER/SMR number.
    • The HER/SMR will have a list of references relating to the site which will help too.
    • The HER/SMR may also have copies of aerial photographs that can be photocopied.

    Most HERs/SMRs are now linked to the National Monuments Record (NMR), Swindon, which may provide further information.

    However, remember that if a site is not recorded on the HER/SMR it may be because

    1. there is nothing there to find or
    2. conditions have not yet allowed anything to be found.
  2. Your county may also have printed information available in, for example:

    • the RCHME (The Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, England) which will be very useful for plans of Iron Age hillforts, Medieval motte-and-baileys, castles and bridges; all relevant plans and information can be photocopied.
    • the VCH (Victoria County History), same as above, if your county has this resource.
    • County Journals, even National Journals, which may have more recent information.
  3. Add to this printed information any recent evidence from other sources such as Ground Survey, Geophysical Survey, Aerial Photographs, LiDAR or Excavation Reports on your site; the HER/SMR will have noted these.

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