1. The Introduction to Standards and Guidance in Archaeological Practice documents

The tradition of voluntary archaeological research has existed since at least the late eighteenth century. Many county societies and antiquarian groups have been around for more than a century and they were instrumental in creating the modern discipline of archaeology. However, in the past decade or so an increase in funding and a higher profile for archaeology in the media has swelled the number of projects being undertaken by the voluntary sector, as well as increasing opportunities for volunteers to participate.
Smiles at Thrumster Broch
The standards and guidance outlined here are intended to be suitable for anyone involved in archaeology to follow since the obligations remain the same. However they are aimed especially at those carrying out archaeological activities as a voluntary pursuit.

The standards derive directly from the [Institute for Archaeologists’ (IfA) Standards and Guidance](http://www.archaeologists.net/codes/ifa), and so ideally should be followed by professionals and volunteers alike, no matter what the scale or circumstance of archaeological work. This document is a summary of those standards, so anyone seeking further detail should refer to the original documentation. Web links to those standards are given at the bottom of each page, as well as other suggested resources for further specific information.

All of the IfA Standards and Guidance documents are summarised in this document, apart from the Standards and Guidance for Forensic Archaeologists. This is because that particular standard and guidance is aimed primarily at specialists carrying out crime scene investigations with a view to appearing as expert witnesses in court.

The IfA Standards and Guidance are ‘live’ documents and as such are constantly evolving, as they respond to changes in both policy and practice. Hence, it is envisaged that the ISGAP pages too will evolve as new techniques, legislation, and other factors come into play over time. This also accounts for the differing writing styles and formats seen in some of the guidance.

These guidance documents are intended to cover the whole of the UK and the UK Crown Dependencies. They recognise, therefore, the differing legislative and practical frameworks in operation in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. For further details of legislation affecting archaeological work, please refer to [Essential contacts & help](/docs/13) (Module 13).

## General principles

The following are general principles which should be kept in mind when conducting any archaeological work:

1. **Make sure that you have the skills and experience to carry out the work that you are planning**
Seek out appropriate training courses to help your group gain the skills to carry out archaeological work to an acceptable level that doesn’t unnecessarily damage the archaeological heritage.Advice can also be gained by linking in with more experienced groups in your area, consulting local archaeologists and specialists, and talking to organisations such as the Council for British Archaeology, Archaeology Scotland and the Institute for Archaeologists.

2. **Consider costs at all times.**
Much essential archaeological work, such as post-excavation or work requiring consultation with specialists will most likely have costs attached, for materials, staff times, ongoing conservation and storage requirements and so forth. This should be given careful thought at the outset of a project, as failure to cover these expenses will have a detrimental effect on the overall project if particular elements are neglected due to their costs. If you are putting together a funding application, you should be able to itemise these expenses as part of your proposed project budget, ensuring that any grants received will cover or at least assist with these costs.

3. You need to decide whether or not to take on **intrusive investigation** (such as excavation or field walking); in turn accepting the legal, good practice, archive, ownership, insurance issues that this will entail. In some cases it may be more productive and useful, and less stressful, to concentrate on non-intrusive Desk-based assessments, survey, geophysical work or, other forms of research.
Excavation in sand
4. **You don’t need to work alone.**
Consult the local authority archaeologist and keep them updated as the project develops.

5. **Work with what is known already.**
A thorough appraisal of information within both the appropriate National Monuments Record and the local Historic Environment Record or Sites and Monuments Record should be made before any further work is undertaken.

6. **Seek to share your understanding of the past.**
An organised record of the results of the work should be deposited as soon as reasonably possible with national and local information resources such as your local authority archaeological service and national repositories such as [OASIS](http://www.oasis.ac.uk).

7. **Check your insurance.**
Any individual or group carrying out fieldwork of any sort should ensure they have adequate insurance policies in place.

8. **Health and Safety is paramount.**
Some forms of practical archaeological work are dangerous. Working safely should take priority over the need to recover, analyse or record the archaeology itself

9. If you are working with **young people** under the age of eighteen then you should refer to [Key advice & resources for working with young people](/docs/14) (Module 14) to ensure you comply with best practice and legislation.
10. **Seek out ways in which your project can involve others.**
Wherever possible, archaeological investigations, including heritage stewardship, should aim to provide accessible opportunities for increasing public awareness and interest in archaeology and sharing new knowledge.

11. **Check you have the relevant access permissions.** Gold pendant: Image courtesy of Wessex Archaeology
In all cases of archaeological investigation or stewardship, make sure that you have the relevant permissions from landowners, and also the relevant authorities if planning to work on listed buildings, battlefields, Scheduled Ancient Monuments, or other sites, monuments or landscapes with protected status.
In addition, we recommend that any archaeological researcher, whether paid or unpaid, and whether a member of the IfA or not, be aware of and adhere to the five principles set out in the [IfA’s _Code of conduct_](http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/node-files/code_conduc...) (pdf file), and are reproduced here in the [Appendices section](/docs/15a).