Pre-afforestation walkover surveys (targeted, predictive or comprehensive, dependent on requirements) are undertaken by Argyll Archaeology. The final report includes summary text of the archaeological resource as well as a summary of the proposed mitigation to ensure that the archaeological resource is protected. Additionally, the final report includes a database of the sites which includes locational and site-specific mitigation. If required GIS compatible data in the form of shape files can be provided.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.