Argyll Archaeology

Argyll Archaeology - Fieldwork Services

An evaluation typically comprises machine excavated trial-trenches across a percentage (generally ranges between 5 and 10%) of the development area, although occasional hand excavation, typically within buildings, of the trial trenches is necessary. An evaluation is often required when archaeological material has been previously recorded from the site or is located nearby. The aim of an evaluation is to assess the likelihood of the survival of archaeological material within the specified development area. Often the results of an evaluation are negative with no archaeology being found but occasionally something of merit is discovered. If archaeology is present the objectives of the evaluation are to assess its extent, character, date, integrity, state of preservation and quality and this information will be used to inform possible further stages of work.


Evaluation trenches at Dunbeg
Evaluation trenches at Dunbeg


Depending upon the results of an evaluation and/or desk-based assessment you may be required by the Planning Authority to undertake further archaeological work in the form of an excavation. The aim of excavation is to record the archaeology through the use of detailed records, plans, sections and photographs. Depending upon what was discovered during the excavation a programme of post-excavation work which may include the analyses of artefacts, ecofacts and soils may be required. Post-excavation works can result in the production of a publication.

Excavated ring-ditch roundhouse found during a controlled topsoil strip in Kilmartin Glen
Excavated ring-ditch roundhouse found during a controlled topsoil strip in Kilmartin Glen


Watching Brief
A watching brief comprises the supervision of ground breaking works and/or the observation of the demolition of a building. A watching brief is often stipulated by the archaeological planning advisors when potential archaeology could not readily be identified during an evaluation (for example a cist burial) or where the known archaeological remains are of limited importance or extent but requires recording prior to their destruction.

watching brief on access track, Inveraray
Watching brief on construction of new access
track near Inveraray


Controlled topsoil strip
During a controlled topsoil strip all the ground to be disturbed by a development is stripped of topsoil prior to the start of building works. In geographically isolated areas it is often used instead of a watching brief to minimise archaeological costs as the work can be undertaken as a single event rather than perhaps requiring multiple return visits to the development site.

controlled topsoil strip on house plot in Knapdale
Controlled topsoil strip on house plot in Knapdale


There are three types of archaeological survey: walkover survey, surface collection survey and earthwork/topographic survey. A walkover survey is a preliminary survey designed to identify and note potential archaeological remains that are visible from above the ground. Surface collection survey (fieldwalking) allows for the collection of artefacts and will normally only be carried out on arable land which has been ploughed or harrowed. A survey of earthworks is generally conducted using a total station in which all data (both archaeological and topographical) is recorded in 3D.


Total station survey in progress, Dunstaffnage
Total station survey in progress, Dunstaffnage


Building recording
The scale and nature of the building recording required is largely determined by the building ’s age, rarity and current condition. At its most basic what will be required is a photographic record, sketch plan and brief description and at its most complex a measured survey with the production of elevations, floor plans, recording of internal features, scaled photography and detailed architectural analysis.

building recording of ruined barn on Tiree



Please contact Dr Clare Ellis ('member of the CIFA' and 'CIFA 2368') for further information and quotations:
email -
or telephone/fax 01586 550239.

Building recording of ruined barn on Tireebuilding recording of ruined barn on Tiree

Argyll Archaeology


Fieldwork services



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